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P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans

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Deisy Del Real, 2011

PhD, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Deisy Del Real is an immigrant from Mexico

Fellowship awarded to support work towards a PhD in Sociology at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Deisy came with her family from Mexico to the Los Angeles when she was six. Awaiting action on green card applications, she and her family were undocumented for 16 years. She was admitted with a full scholarship to Grinnell College, where she organized events promoting the DREAM Act and highlighted problems facing undocumented students. She learned that she would age out of the family's green card application when she turned 21, be deported, and banned from returning to the United States for 10 years. She appealed her case to the media, prompting a New Mexico priest to start a Saving Miss Deisy campaign and a lawyer to present her case successfully to immigration authorities.

Deisy received her bachelor’s of arts from Grinnell College and is currently a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research seeks to understand the negative consequences of immigration enforcement and to identify policy solutions from other parts of the world that can help us create more humane immigration laws. Her dissertation focuses on why and how migrant sending and receiving countries in South America negotiated regional migration policy under Mercosur to expand undocumented immigrants access to legal residency and rights. Her research has received several awards including the Charles & Sue Young Graduate Award —the highest honor given to UCLA graduate students—and has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the UCLA graduate division among others. She also studies how U.S. immigration enforcement affects the relationships and psychological well-being of undocumented young adults. Findings from this line of research have been published at the International Migration Review and Advances in Medical Sociology. This research project has also received support from the National Science Foundation. 

Deisy is committed to using my research to expand the educational opportunities and rights of undocumented immigrants around the world. She has collaborated with the Posse Foundation and its 57 partner colleges and universities, National Association of Fellowship Advisors, and several other universities to identify and address the needs of undocumented students. Internationally, she was invited to provide expert testimony before Mercosur (a regional organization that consists of 12 countries) during their adaptation of the Inter-American Human Rights Court’s Advisory-Opinion 21/14 (AO-21/14), which specifies how countries should protect undocumented children. As a result of this collaboration, she was also invited to provide expert testimony at San Jose, Uruguay where they voted in favor of passing the Acta 11, which implements the AO-21/14. Finally, she is collaborating with an Emmy-nominated filmmaker on a film about her family’s immigration experience. 

Education
  • MA Sociology | University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 2013
  • BA Sociology | Grinnell College 2007
  • PhD Sociology | University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Awards
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow
Publications
  • A Community of Contrasts Asian Americans in the United States: 2011
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A Century of Jinetes

Deisy Del Real takes readers on her immigration journey from Mexico to the United States, and from being undocumented to becoming a citizen.

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