Invisible students: Institutional invisibility and access to education for undocumented children

Francesca Meloni, Cécile Rousseau, Alexandra Ricard-Guay, Jill Hanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose – In Canada, undocumented children are “institutionally invisible” – their access to education to be
found in unwritten and discretionary practices. Drawing on the experience of a three-year universitycommunity partnership among researchers, institutional and community stakeholders, the purpose of this
paper is to examine how undocumented children are constructed as excluded from school.
Design/methodology/approach – The establishment of this collaborative research space, helped to
critically understand how this exclusion was maintained, and highlighted contradictory interpretations of
policies and practices.
Findings – Proposing the analytical framework of “institutional invisibility”, the authors argue that issues of access
and entitlement for undocumented children have to be often understood within unwritten and ambiguous policies
and practices that make the lives of young people invisible to the institutional entities with which they interact.
Originality/value – The notion of institutional invisibility allows the authors to integrate the missing link
between questions of access and deservingness. The paper also reflects on the role of action research in
both documenting dynamics and pathways of institutional invisibility, as well as in initiating social change – as
both horizontal, and vertical mobilisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-25
JournalInternational Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care
Issue number1
Early online date22 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2017


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