Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Claire M. Rice

Second Advisor

Robin Cooper

Third Advisor

Judith McKay


DACA, DREAM Act, DREAM Act Policies, immigration, undocumented children, undocumented young adults


In this study, the policies and legislation connected to the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act between 2001 and 2012 were reviewed and analyzed to identify how the DREAM Act perpetuates structural violence. The DREAM Act purported to assist many undocumented immigrant children and young adults in becoming legal residents of the United States of America. This study applied both the qualitative content analysis approach and a policy analysis methodology guided by David Gil’s methodology for analysis and development of social policies. Data collection sources included legislative bills crafted on the DREAM Act, research articles and studies, progress reports, films, and archived newspaper articles, prior interviews, and memoranda.

The theory of structural violence presented in this study was analyzed in terms of Johan Galtung’s account, particularly pertaining to undocumented children who are unserviceable or remain within the gray areas of the DREAM Act’s policies and legislative efforts. Additionally, the goals and objectives of the Act were evaluated against the disqualifying factors with which otherwise eligible children are faced, leading such children and young adults to become confined to substandard social and economic conditions. The leading research question was, “What is the impact of the DREAM Act policies on undocumented immigrant young adults?” The single follow-up question was, “How does failure to pass the DREAM Act affect undocumented children?” The study also aimed to detect signs, symbols, and traits of structural violence found through the analysis of the DREAM Act.