Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Learning

First Committee Member

Norma Marrun

Second Committee Member

Christine Clark

Third Committee Member

Iesha Jackson

Fourth Committee Member

Victor Villanueva

Fifth Committee Member

Anita Revilla

Number of Pages



In the U.S. xenophobia has been on the rise and current immigration policies have increased the occurrence of family separation. Experiences with family separation profoundly impact children and have a detrimental effect on their development and educational outcomes. However, limited research has been conducted exploring the long-term impacts of family separation on education, particularly as it relates to Latinx tender-age children (below the age of twelve). In the current political climate, Latinx children are precariously positioned to live under the constant threat of family separation due to anti-immigrant policies and xenophobic school climates. This hostile environment can have devastating effects on the educational access and attainment of Latinx children.

The purpose of this qualitative study is to build on previous research on the long-term impacts of family separation on Latinx educational trajectories by exploring the memories of adult Latinx immigrants. This study explores the following questions: 1) How do Latinx immigrants reflect on the long-term effects of family separation on their educational experiences? 2) Through their testimonios, how do Latinx immigrants remember and reflect on their experiences? 3) To what extent can testimonios of Latinx immigrants of family separation inform K-16 educators about how to develop a supportive school culture and climate for Latinx children?

Through a Chicana Latina feminist framework, this work challenges Eurocentric conceptions of research and blurs the line between researcher and participant. Through in-depth semi-structured interviews and platícas, five Latinx immigrants who experienced family separation during a tender age recover their memories related to separation, education, and resistance to co-construct their testimonios. Findings from this research demonstrate the ways in which family separation produces enduring vulnerabilities for Latinx immigrant children and the innovative ways that they resist fragmentation by reconstructing their families. Additionally, these testimonios reveal the role that schools play as sites of visibility and integration for Latinx immigrant children through teacher cariño, peer relationships, and connections to the curriculum. By theorizing from their experiences, testimonialistas reveal that the ultimate impact of family separation is the development of a critical consciousness which enables them to critically examine immigration systems. These testimonios have far-reaching implications for understanding how Latinx immigrants queer their families to navigate immigration processes and develop a radical cariño for reimaginging their families.


Immigrant; Latina Feminism; Latinx; Queer; Students; Testimonio


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Education | Latin American Studies

File Format


File Size

4200 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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