CURRENT PROJECTS: Undocumented Youth in the United States

My current work at the University of Chicago focuses on the experiences of “1.5 generation undocumented youth,” by which I mean young persons who arrived to the U.S. as children and who grew up here without lawful status. I am collaborating with scholars, graduate students, and community service organizations to conduct mixed-method studies that examine the lives of these young persons and develop applied psychological knowledge to improve their circumstances.

My primary project draws upon ethnographic as well as participatory action research methods to study the immigration context in Chicago and understand how undocumented young people navigate it to build meaningful lives. The goal of this work is to build psychological knowledge about these young people's experiences and produce a website that communicates their experiences to others in similar conditions (undocumentedwisdom.com).

If you are between 18 and 35 years of age, live in the United States, and either are undocumented or have parents who are, please write to me at bdellis@uchicago.edu to take part in an in-person or Skype interview that will help build this website. I will explain how the interviews are anonymous and confidential. Please do not use your real name in email correspondence.

Second, in collaboration with two other researchers, I am interviewing undocumented adolescents from different cultural backgrounds to examine how they differ in their experiences and understandings of undocumented status. Third, I am coordinating a survey project with members of the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) to assess the needs of undocumented youth and their families. Fourth, with the help of a graduate student at the University of Chicago, I am conducting media analyses of “coming out” events during which undocumented young persons deliberately disclose their status to others in public spaces. Finally, I am working with Dr. Roberto Gonzales from the Education Department at Harvard University to conduct psychological analyses of interview and survey data collected via his National Undocumented Research Project (NURP). 

In August 2017, I will begin working as an Assistant Professor in Child Development at the College of Education at California State University,  Sacramento. My goal is to continue working with undocumented youth and young adults in the United States to better understand their lives and support their wellbeing.