UCLA Labor Center

New Report Investigates the Experience of Immigrant Youth in the Silicon Valley & Calls for Efforts to Support Immigrant Rights



NOVEMBER 29, 2016

Contact: Citlalli Chávez, citlallichavez@ucla.edu, (714) 742-1581


New Report Investigates the Experience of Immigrant Youth in the Silicon Valley & Calls for Efforts to Support Immigrant Rights

LOS ANGELES -The Dream Resource Center, a project of the UCLA Labor Center focused on immigrant youth research and leadership development, just released Immigrant Youth in the Silicon Valley: Together We Rise, a report which intends to understand the experience of undocumented youth in this region. The study presents key statistics about educational and employment prospects for immigrants and is based upon census data and interviews with immigrant youth (ages 18-32) residing in the Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.

According to the report, Silicon Valley undocumented youth face immense barriers in accessing education. Undocumented youth are four times more likely to drop out of high school compared to other youth in the region and only one third of undocumented youth in the Silicon Valley have some college education. “Our findings are important because 14% of young people in the Silicon Valley are undocumented and they are a core part of the economy yet they face barriers in accessing higher education and employment which limit their success,” explained Mario De Leon, a Project Coordinator at the Dream Resource Center.

“When I was young my parents encouraged me to dream big but when I graduated high school, I quickly realized all of the additional obstacles I would face as a student and there was very little support so this inspired me to create DREAMer’s Roadmap, an app that helps undocumented students find scholarships,” commented Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca, one of the youth interviewees featured in the study.

The study also found that undocumented youth are concentrated in low-wage jobs, 50% of undocumented youth are more likely to fill entry-level jobs, such as floor positions in retail stores, counter staff at fast food restaurants, and nonsupervisory jobs at construction sites. Furthermore, undocumented youth earn lower median wages than other youth in the region, 28% less than other youth. “We hope our findings will allow us to begin a conversation about greater economic justice in the Silicon Valley and support for increasing the minimum wage in the region, diversifying the technology industry, and improving employment access for immigrant youth,” commented Saba Waheed, Research Director at the UCLA Labor Center.

The report findings urge leaders in the Silicon Valley to take on a greater role in advancing immigrant integration and engage youth in the local economy. “Now more than ever, it is critical for Silicon Valley leaders need to stand together to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and to oppose deportations because immigrant workers have and will be critical to the success of this region,” explained Kent Wong, Director at the UCLA Labor Center.”

The Dream Summer Cohort, comprised of nine youth from Silicon Valley, reviewed and provided analysis for this report and collected the youth interviews. “We find this report to be very timely given the anti-immigrant policies being considered by the new administration,” added Kent Wong, “the findings give us not only statistics but also examples of the resiliency of youth and the need for Silicon Valley leadership to support the immigrant community who has contributed to the region’s economic success.”

​Access Report Here:


**Please contact Citlalli Chávez to schedule interviews with report authors and Silicon Valley Youth .**