About Rafael



I vaguely remember arriving to the United States of America when I was three years old. Even during the good times, I felt confused about my parent’s decision to migrate to “El Norte” and openly expressed my discontent. Growing up in South Central Los Angeles I always had critical questions about the racial, ethnic, gendered, labor, and environmental conditions that helped create my neighborhood. Curiosity and reflection led me to academia.

As an UndocuScholar, I am engaged in projects that seek to connect academic work with community development. My research conducts a deep social, historical and political analysis of immigrant rights and undocumented youth. I specialize in social movement, immigration, and transnational studies as theoretical frameworks that help guide my analysis. Qualitative methods help me develop a counter-archive of diverse undocumented youth movements. My project is focused from the period of the last immigration reform in 1986 to the ever growing contemporary material.

The birth of nation-states did not represent the end of colonialism, but rather a recreation of power structures that uphold hierarchies of privilege around social creations of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Part of my pedagogical outlook is to conduct interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary decolonial paradigms that recognize the complex interplay between globalization, human mobility, and resistance. My efforts are to teach decolonial frameworks that allow us to understand the subjugations of bodies by globalization models that outline who has privilege of mobility and a chance at a livable life.