Cover of Shifting Boundaries by Alexis M. Silver
Shifting Boundaries
Immigrant Youth Negotiating National, State, and Small-Town Politics
Alexis M. Silver


200 pages.
from $28.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503604988
Paperback ISBN: 9781503605749
Ebook ISBN: 9781503605756

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As politicians debate how to address the estimated eleven million unauthorized immigrants residing in the United States, undocumented youth anxiously await the next policy shift that will determine their futures. From one day to the next, their dreams are as likely to crumble around them as to come within reach. In Shifting Boundaries, Alexis M. Silver sheds light on the currents of exclusion and incorporation that characterize their lives.

Silver examines the experiences of immigrant youth growing up in a small town in North Carolina—a state that experienced unprecedented growth in its Latino population in the 1990s and 2000s, and where aggressive anti-immigration policies have been enforced. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth interview data, she finds that contradictory policies at the national, state, and local levels interact to create a complex environment through which the youth must navigate. From heritage-based school programs to state-wide bans on attending community college; from the failure of the DREAM Act to the rescinding of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); each layer represents profound implications for undocumented Latino youth. Silver exposes the constantly changing pathways that shape their journeys into early adulthood—and the profound resilience that they develop along the way.

About the author

Alexis M. Silver is Associate Professor of Sociology at Purchase College, State University of New York.

"Thoroughly researched and elegantly written, Shifting Boundaries tells the poignant story of undocumented Latino immigrants coming of age in small-town America. Alexis Silver's narrative, both timeless and timely, is a must-read for anyone interested in America's tortuous immigration debates and the challenges they present for immigrant youth."

—Jacqueline Hagan, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"Alexis Silver has written a terrific book. This extraordinary study provides a fresh perspective on immigrant incorporation and the importance of place during political instability. Rich in detail, persuasively argued, and novel in its approach, this timely and relevant book shines an important light on the resilience of young immigrants in the face of unsettling and changing times."

—Roberto G. Gonzales, author of Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America

"Shifting Boundaries provides a compelling argument for understanding the plight of undocumented youths as they inch their way toward—and take alternative routes to—integration when the path seems impassable...Most of all, this book offers a profound analysis that shows the humanity of undocumented immigrants within an increasingly hostile national context."––Nilda Flores-Gonzalez, American Journal of Sociology