Canizales, S. L. (2023). Work primacy and the social incorporation of unaccompanied, undocumented Latinx youth in the United States. Social Forces, 101(3), 1372-1395

This study investigates the social incorporation of unaccompanied,undocumented Latinx youth workers as they come of age in the United States.Based on research with undocumented Central American and Mexican young adultswho grew up as unaccompanied minors in Los Angeles, California, the datareveal that the pressures of financial obligations to families in the sendingcountry and their own sobrevivencia (survival) in the United States, alongwith limited financial and social resource and mobility, produce a socialincorporation trajectory shaped by the primacy of work. Work primacyconditions youth’s educational opportunities, community embeddedness, andfamily relationships and limits unaccompanied, undocumented youth’s abilityto establish and maintain social networks with consequences for their socialincorporation. The precarious occupations within the secondary labor marketthat are characterized by long hours, low wages, labor market restrictions,and unsafe and unsanitary work conditions limit opportunities forsocioeconomic mobility for all youth. Women and Indigenous youth aredistinctly affected by work primacy. This research advances our understandingof immigrant youth’s lives by examining how institutional context, familialobligations across borders, and limited ethnic networks play a role inshaping the incorporation experiences of unaccompanied, undocumented Latinximmigrants as they come of age in the United States.