Immigration status doesn’t show up in Blau & Duncan’s list of ascriptive characteristics, but it surely belongs there. Since children of U.S. citizens and children born in the U.S. are granted automatic citizenship, whether you’re a U.S. citizen, a documented immigrant, or an undocumented immigrant is a function of the conditions of your birth.
Would we get a different picture of the relationship between ascription and achievement in the U.S. today if we considered immigration as an ascriptive characteristic? This article suggests that the answer is probably yes. Thanks to a 1982 Supreme Court decision, students don’t need documentation to attend American public elementary and high schools. But as one undocumented immigrant put it: “After high school, I am done. This is the end of me.” Most public colleges charge undocumented immigrants out-of-state tuition, and few state and federal financial aid programs are available to them. And lacking documentation is a major hurdle in the job market.