Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Manisha Desai, Marysol Asencio and Daisy Reyes

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


The dreamer narrative and its accompanying frames have become a staple of immigration debates in the United States. Dreamer narratives afford undocumented youth organizations visibility to articulate their socio-political needs. As undocumented youth make claims for legal and social recognition, they utilize dreamer frames that highlight undocumented youth as productive, patriotic, and/or deserving members of U.S. society. Based on 18 semi-structured interviews with undocumented youth and Connecticut state legislators and participant observation of undocumented youth-led rallies, lobbying campaigns and organizational meetings, I examine how undocumented youth organizers react, respond and utilize nationally derived social movement frames in a local context. I found that undocumented youth share ambivalence about using dreamer frames but believe it to be the only way to achieve their political goals. I argue that undocumented youth’s ambivalence with using the dreamer frame stems from (1) a sense of betrayal towards their families, (2) the fear of further marginalization of other immigrants, and (3) a disconnect between their own personal experiences and the narratives highlighted by the dreamer frame. This research contributes to the sociology of social movements by showing how nationally-constructed frames are modified to suit the needs and political goals of local immigrant rights organizations.

Major Advisor

Manisha Desai