About The Survey
In Their Own Words: A National Survey of Undocumented Millennials is one of the largest surveys to date on any segment of the undocumented population in the U.S. The survey provides new insights related to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, life after DACA, and the experience of “coming out” as undocumented, as well as a first-of-its-kind look at the civic engagement and political incorporation of undocumented youth, among several other important topics.
The survey attracted 3,139 responses nationwide, of which we have confidence that 1,472 of those responses were provided by undocumented young people between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five. The survey was fielded online in two phases during late 2013 and early 2014.
The survey sets a new standard in undocumented immigrant population research. It addresses the issue of “spoiled ballots” (e.g., people who are not undocumented but who take the survey) by including a validation test for undocumented status, the only method of its kind that we are aware of, and by not providing a financial incentive. The survey also addresses the issue of “ballot stuffing” (e.g., one person taking the survey multiple times) by using a state-of-the-art online survey platform that prevents any one IP address from submitting multiple responses.
The survey used Facebook ads to augment a peer-to-peer sampling strategy (snowball sampling), which led to a broad respondent base. Indeed, only thirty-five percent of respondents reported that they were members of an immigrant-rights organization. Moreover, forty-two states plus the District of Columbia are represented, as are sixty different places of birth. Our methods, the large number of responses we received, the representativeness of our respondent pool, and the fact that no valid margin of error can be calculated using online surveys leads us to believe that our survey sets the new methodological standard for this kind of research.
But although great care was taken to address the various methodological issues that arise in online surveys of vulnerable populations, and given the limitations of the sampling procedure, any generalizations based on the data should be made with caution. Moreover, as the American Association for Public Opinion Research notes, because respondents self-select to take online surveys and are not selected based on a probability sample, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated.
The survey was commissioned by Unbound Philanthropy and the Own the Dream Research Institute at United We Dream (OTDRI). Tom K. Wong, PhD, Assistant Professor of political science at UC San Diego, serves as the Primary Investigator for the Own the Dream Research Institute and created and directed all aspects of the survey project. He was assisted by OTDRI’s Senior Research Associate Carolina Valdivia, an undocumented youth leader of United We Dream and the San Diego Dream Team. Further assistance was provided by Nancy Guarneros, Alma Martinez, and Iliana Perez. Respondent recruitment was led by staff and volunteers of the United We Dream Network.
Funding permitting, the United We Dream Network wishes to conduct a third and fourth phase of this survey in order to build on its findings with further qualitative and quantitative research, as well as to integrate the results with various DACA implementation programs across the country.