Drawing on research spanning ten years in three immigrant destinations—Los Angeles, Denver, and Atlanta—we address the question, “How do political contexts shape undocumented youth movements?” To do so, we bring into dialogue social movements and immigration scholarship by providing a framework for understanding undocumented youth activism. Building on political opportunity theory in social movements and segmented assimilation theory in migration studies, we advance the notion of localized political contexts: contexts of varying levels of antagonism and accommodation toward immigrants, which shape the emergence and character of undocumented youth movements. We argue that variegated political, legal, and discursive landscapes shape undocumented activism in three ways: (1) the claims that are made; (2) the targets for these claims; and (3) the strategies and tactics the movement adopts. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of undocumented youth movements given the increasingly hostile political context unfolding at the national level.

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