Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Joanne Belknap, Ph.D., Department of Ethnic Studies (Co-Chair)

Second Advisor

Anne Becher, M.A., Department of Spanish & Portuguese (Co-Chair)

Third Advisor

Enrique Sepúlveda, Ph.D., Department of Ethnic Studies (Outside Reader)

Fourth Advisor

Juan Herrero-Senés, PhD., Department of Spanish & Portuguese (Honors Council Representative)


The U.S. Latinx (Latin American) undocumented labor force has faced significant and increasing hostility and challenges in recent years. These include harmful labels about their work and personal ethics that lead to inaccurate and racist portrayals. Despite the substantial news and political coverage of this topic in the U.S., there is surprisingly little research on these workers. Guided by Labeling Theory, this thesis is based on in-depth, qualitative interviews with 24 Latinx immigrant workers in Aurora and Denver, Colorado area, who arrived undocumented or overstayed their visas (and became undocumented). The findings include descriptions of the legal and social restrictions imposed on them, their survival techniques, their reasons for migrating to and staying in the U.S., and the collateral effects of the legal restrictions, including access to affordable and adequate healthcare. As expected, the increasing deportation threat directed at the Latinx immigrants posed by the Trump presidency, and the ensuing media, societal, and legal hype, resulted in significant harm to these individuals, including fear in general, and exploitation and abuse in these laborers’ work environments.