Latino Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 310–340 | Cite as

Borders and badges: Arizona’s children confront detention and deportation through art

  • Silvia Rodriguez VegaEmail author
Original Article


Hostile and unpredictable immigration policies can have detrimental consequences for children of immigrants. This study provides a snapshot of children’s reactions to anti-immigrant policies in Arizona from 2007 to 2010. Through a visual content narrative analysis of 115 drawings by children in a community-run after-school program in Maricopa County, Phoenix, Arizona, this study chronicles, analyzes, and attempts to understand the ways children make sense of their positions and their families’ security in US society. The themes that emerged from children’s drawings include (1) detention and deportation, (2) violence and racism, and (3) resilience. The themes outlined in this paper suggest that in a continued repressive political context, children’s preoccupations with family separation are likely to have lasting consequences as these children transition into adulthood. For scholars, educators, and policymakers, this study reveals the consequences of deportation-based fear on children’s academic, emotional, and physical well-being.


Immigrant children Mixed-status families Arizona Art Visual narrative Legal violence 



I want to offer sincere appreciation and gratitude for Leisy Ábrego, Judy Baca, and Carola Suárez-Orozco for mentoring and inspiring me. Thank you to my writing group and to Arleen Fernandez for all the unending support. I am also grateful to the thoughtful reviewers and editors of Latino Studies. I dedicate this work to the immigrant community in Arizona and to all migrants resisting and crossing physical and symbolic borders.


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© Springer Nature Limited 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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