Ausgabe 17

Être jeune, privée de statut légal et citoyenne, est-ce possible ?

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Myrian Carbajal, Nathalie Ljuslin

This article is based upon a qualitative research project exploring how young undocumented Latino-Americans living in Switzerland experience the transition from childhood to adulthood. Findings suggest that, in spite of their legal status, these young people demonstrate active and horizontal forms of citizenship. Such citizenship is acquired through political participation including demonstrations in favour of «illegal aliens», but also through engagement with a wide range of social activities including sports, music, religious or volunteer groups. Moreover, these youths’ stance towards the state, who considers them as margizens, and their attitudes towards the police (for instance, absence of fear to be denunciated, or to report a theft), are in fact also forms of citizenship, in the sense that they oppose the dominant model. In other words, these young people possess both a vertical relationship to citizenship, in their relationship with a state which does not recognize them, and a horizontal relationship to fellow citizens who do not take account of their status as undocumented immigrants.