Carolina Valdivia

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I am currently a UC President's Postdoctoral Fellow. My work explores the ways through which various forms of legal and social exclusion impact the lives of immigrant youth and their families, including their educational trajectories, mental health, and political participation. My current research project explores the consequences of heightened immigration enforcement on undocumented immigrants and their families. Drawing from participant observation and in-depth interviews with 103 members of undocumented and mixed-status families in San Diego County (CA), I examine how immigration enforcement practices affect important aspects of family life (e.g. roles, responsibilities, dynamics) and members’ participation in work, school, the household, and the broader community. 


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PhD, Harvard University


2020-2022 UCI Chancellor’s Inclusive Excellence Award

2020-2021 University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship

2020 Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Award, Honorable mention, Section on

Children & Youth, American Sociological Association

2020 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, Honorable mention

2019-2020 Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Fellowship

2019 Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies Visiting Scholar Fellowship at UC San Diego

2018-2019 SSSP Racial/Ethnic Minority Graduate Fellowship

2017 Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline-American Sociological Association

(Co-PI with Edelina Burciaga, Kevin Escudero, Andrea Flores, Lisa M. Martinez,

and Joanna Perez)

2015-2018 Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellowship

2011-2012 CSU Chancellor’s Office Pre-Doctoral Program Sally Casanova Scholar


2019 Harvard Graduate School of Education Conference Travel Grant

2019-2020 University of California Humanities Research Institute Multi-Campus Graduate

Student Working Group (Co-PI with Leisy Abrego, Lucia Leon, Monica Cornejo,

and Katherine Maldonado)

2018 Harvard Graduate School of Education Conference Travel Grant

2018-2020 Sociological Initiatives Foundation Research Grant (Co-PI with Marisol Clark-


2018 UCLA UndocuScholars Project Research Grant (Co-PI with Marisol Clark-


2017 ACT Corporate Giving Award (Co-PI with Marisol Clark-Ibañez)

2017 Latino Center for Leadership Development Research Grant (Co-PI with Marisol


2017 NCHEA Research Grant (Co-PI with Marisol Clark-Ibañez)

2017 Harvard Weatherhead Center for International Affairs Research Grant

2017 Harvard Graduate School of Education Conference Travel Grant

2015 Harvard Graduate Student Council Conference Travel Grant

Selected Publications

Valdivia, Carolina. 2020“Undocumented Young Adults’ Heightened Vulnerability in the Trump Era.” In We Are Not Dreamers: Undocumented Scholars Theorize Undocumented Life in the United Statesby Leisy J. Abrego and Genevieve Negron-Gonzales, Editors. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Wong, Tom K., S. Deborah Kang, Carolina Valdivia, Josefina Espino, Michelle Gonzalez, and Elia Peralta. 2020. “How Interior Immigration Enforcement Affects Trust in Law Enforcement,” Perspectives on Politics.

Valdivia, Carolina. 2019. “Expanding Geographies of Deportability: How Immigration Enforcement at the Local-Level Affects Undocumented and Mixed-Status Families” Law & Policy.

Valdivia, Carolina. 2019. “Youth Activism.” In Il/legal Encounters: Migration, Detention, and Deportation in the Lives of Young Peopleby Deborah A. Boehm and Susan J. Terrio, Editors. New York, NY: New York University Press.


Since 2017, I have also been co-directing the UndocuResearch project with Dr. Marisol Clark-Ibañez (Professor of Sociology). The project examines the experiences of immigrant high school students and the school personnel who work with them. The first and second stages of the project entailed in-depth interviews with high school students who are members of undocumented and mixed-status families (n = 40), as well as educators, counselors, and administrators (n= 43). The research team also conducted participant observation at eight different high schools in San Diego County. The project has been supported by the Sociological Initiatives Foundation, the Latino Center for Leadership Development, UndocuScholars at UCLA, Palomar College, the North County Higher Education Alliance, and the ACT.