Date of Project


Document Type

Honors Thesis

School Name

College of Arts and Sciences



Major Advisor

Dr. Frank Hutchins

Second Advisor

Dr. Miguel Rincon


The controversial topic of illegal immigration has repeatedly and deeply divided the United States. There has been, in recent years, a spotlight on immigrants from Latin America, and impersonal claims are being spread in news articles everywhere. For this research, survey questionnaires and ethnographic interviews were used to facilitate a sample of undocumented immigrants from the Louisville, Kentucky, and Southern Indiana (An area known as “Kentuckiana”) to provide insight on their experiences. This thesis aims to examine the effects of this uncertain status on the well-being of Latin American immigrants in this region, where not much research is done on the undocumented population.

There are numerous reasons why an individual may feel the need to escape their home country. Widespread poverty, extreme violence, and political turmoil often lead to uninhabitable conditions, and many immigrants have faced years of chronic stress before making the dangerous journey to the United States. To the undocumented person, the United States is frequently an unwelcoming environment. For the purposes of this research, the transition immigrants go through when they cross is examined as a rite of passage, one that often does not reach completion. This leaves the individual “stuck” in a deeply uncomfortable liminal space: they do not belong in their new home, but they are not able to return to their country of origin. This, among other factors, leads to negative mental and physical health outcomes. This research aims to provide real-life testimonies to support statistics about undocumented immigrants’ well-being, as well as give a widely misrepresented population the opportunity to voice feelings that they may otherwise fear sharing.

Available for download on Saturday, November 05, 2022