Immigration Glossary

Immigration Glossary

When speaking about immigration related matters or assisting students it is beneficial to be familiar with key terms and their meanings. This knowledge can faciliate interactions and promote clearer communication. It may also clarify differences in how students self-identify versus how institutions or governmental agencies categorize them based on their immigration status. 

Commonly Used Terms

Listen to the terms or words that students use to describe themselves.

1.75, 1.5, and 1.25 Generation:  Immigration scholarship classifies immigrant groups as first- or second-generation immigrants to denote when they arrived to the United States and their level of incorporation.  First-generation is generally used to describe immigrants who arrived as adults versus second-generation immigrants who are the children of immigrants.  In most cases the children have been born in the United States. 

These numbers 1.75, 1.5, 1.25 capture individuals who fall between 1st and 2nd generation immigrants.  These classifications are based on the argument that sociologist, Rubaumt makes in Ages, Life Stages, and Generational Cohorts: Decomposing the First and Second Immigrant Generations in the United States where he considers age and life stage of arrival to then group individuals  and examine other acculturation markers such as education, employment and language.

1.75 arrived to the U.S. between the ages of 0-5

1.5 arrived to the U.S. between the ages of 6-12

1.25 arrived to the U.S. between the ages of 13-17

Cultural Citizen: According to cultural anthropologist, Renato Rosaldo, this term "... refers to the right to be different and belong to a participatory democacy" (p.402).  It is a concept that encompasses ideas of culture and citizenship.  Dr. Rosaldo explores this subject in his 1994 article "Cultural Citizenship and Educational Democracy" found in the Journal of Cultural Anthropology Vol 9, No. 3.

Dream Act: Legislation that would provide young people who entered the United States as minors with a pathway to adjust their immigration status.  This legislation was first introducted by senators Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch in 2001.  The Dream Act has not passed although it has been reintroduced and modified several times. 

DREAMer: Someone who entered the United States as a minor and who would qualify for the Dream Act. It is important to note that not all young undocumented immigrants uniformly identify as DREAMers.

HB60 student: HB60- House bill that granted in-state tuition to students who qualified as Illinois residents and met additional requirements.  Some students may identify with this legislation.

Human being: Another term that individuals prefer due to its detachment of immigration status.  Emphasizes one's humanity as opposed to legality or other characteristics.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): Immigration directive that was announced on June of 15, 2012 and implemented on August 15, 2012.  DACA provides a 2-year deportation reprieve and applicants may apply for a work authorization permit this permission is subject to renewal.  Only young adults who were 31-years-old or younger on June 15, 2012 qualify for this program.  For a more comprehensive list of requirements visit the USCIS website.

DACAmented: describes someone granted deferred action for childhood arrivals also known as "DACA."  This status provides a two-year deportation reprieve and recipients may apply for a work authorization permit.

Immigrant: Identities someone who is living in a country besides their country of birth or citizenship.

International student: Institutions of higher level often times classify undocumented students as international students due to their citizenship.  However, some students may not identify as international students.

Mixed-status family: A family with members who have different types of immigration status.  Thus, some may be U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, recipients of DACA, while others remain without a recognized immigration status.  The compositon of mixed status families vary.

Noncitizen: Individual who maintains citizenship to a country different from one's own country.

Sovereign migrant: An automous traveler.  A new term that reflects a political and historical view that acknowledges the role of imperalism, colonialism, and sovereignty in defining citizenship and sense of inclusion/exclusion.  More information about this term can be found at "Dreamers Adrift." 

Refugee: According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) a refugee is, "Generally, any person outside his or her country of nationality who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. Persecution or the fear must be based on the person’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion..."

Unauthorized: Individuals who have entered the U.S. without proper inspection, or became unauthorized thus lack permission to be present.

Undocumented: A term frequently used refer to someone without legal status.  This term implies a lack of documention such as individuals without a social security number, work permit or visa.  However, people may have these documents but may have expired and therefore, are no longer valid. 

UndocuQueer: Captures the intersecting identities of someone who identities as undocumented and as a member of the LGBTQ community.

Undocu-friendly: This phrase is sometimes publicly displayed to indicate solidarity and understanding of the challenges individuals whose legality is questioned face.  It indicates students are entering a space that is safe and judgement free.  In the case of educators and staff this statement signals a willingness to listen and address concerns affecting students.