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I am looking to apply to several junior faculty positions this Fall and Winter. Many positions allow you to submit an optional diversity statement where I had intended to discuss my undocumented legal immigrant status. I have DACA so I am eligible to work in the USA without visa sponsorship but this is contingent on continued DACA renewals, which used to be 2-year fixed terms but has since been reduced to annual renewals.

Undocumented immigrants in the academic field are extremely sparse, far below the national averages for bachelor's, master's, and PhD attainment, and as you might expect, almost non-existent among professors. This seems like a good point in terms of advancing diversity but at the same time, my concerns are whether universities would even bother to look at someone like me whose employment status is not guaranteed in the long run, especially under the current US administration.

From a faculty search committee standpoint, would someone who is undocumented/DACA-mented be a red flag?

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    academia.stackexchange.com/questions/94644/… may be relevant. Sadly there is no progress on resolving DACA in a positive manner.
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 22, 2020 at 17:20
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    That is actually a question I had asked in my early days as a student under a different account :) (also goes to show how little of us there are). Fortunately, I'm going into a field where external funding is not necessary so this is my new debacle in this saga of unfortunate events.
    – jbmrkt_q
    Sep 22, 2020 at 17:32
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    I already have and unfortunately the verdict was ultimately to leave the country and be banned from re-entry for 10 years with no guarantee of applying for legal residence in the USA, or wait it out and hope that a future administration will pass a law to address this.
    – jbmrkt_q
    Sep 22, 2020 at 17:38
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    Sadness. Keep your fingers crossed.
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 22, 2020 at 17:53
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    Many departments would be very uncomfortable hiring someone with DACA work authorization. I believe that discriminating against an applicant on this basis would be illegal, but if you reveal this information it's quite possible that you would be discriminated against because of it. Sep 22, 2020 at 17:57

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From my experience with faculty searches, departments at first care only about whether a candidate is actually good. That is the key basis to form a short list, and only after that do they care about the practicalities of hiring someone. These practicalities includes salary, spousal accommodations, visa status, etc.

As a consequence, I think that your immigration status is not going to be much in terms of an obstacle for getting onto a short list and, potentially, getting an offer. Your problems will of course start after that: is a university willing to actually hire you given the not entirely settled legal status of DACA. I'm not an expert on this part, so if you say that you're eligible for employment, then I will assume that universities see it the same way and that your major obstacle then must be to get onto the short list and getting an offer -- for which the only criterion really is that you are better than the competition.

Implied in your question is whether you should mention your status in the diversity essay. That would strike me as odd: The fact that you are in this category makes you no better qualified than someone who is in the US on a visa or, since you have spent the majority of your life in the US, anyone else who has grown up here. As a consequence, I think that there is nothing to be gained from mentioning your DACA status -- thought it is conceivable that it raises questions on the minds of faculty similar to the ones you mention in your question.

In summary: My suggestion would be to just not bring up the DACA status at all in application documents, and only mention this once you have a conversation with the department head about actually getting hired. That is the point where the prospective employer needs to know about it, but no earlier than that.

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    I'd have to disagree that DACA people have had the same in-U.S. experience as anyone else "who grew up here". Even in the best of times, there is a precariousness that I myself cannot imagine... To see "DACA people" in positions of some status and power would be a very positive message for DACA kids, etc. Sep 22, 2020 at 18:44
  • Agree that it is a mistake to mention it too early. Hopefully we will have a more sensible (and moral) government before too long.
    – Buffy
    Sep 22, 2020 at 20:45
  • @paulgarrett That's true to a degree, but compared to other minorities, DACA-protected people are a really small minority (800,000 or so). If a university's goal is to address diversity issues, there are much bigger minorities in the country who can rightfully say that they too are underrepresented: women (~160M), hispanics (~60M), LGBTQ+ (~10M). Maybe my characterization is incorrect, but you do get the point. Sep 22, 2020 at 21:20
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    @Wolfgang I don't think that's the standard that is usually applied in diversity efforts.
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 23, 2020 at 0:19

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