Diana Mendoza

Hiding in Shadows: The Experience of Undocumented Working Class Service Employees of Hispanic Origin

Mentor: Kenny Smith

A visit to a southern California restaurant offers a familiar sight: long and loud lines of impatient customers, busy servers taking and delivering orders, and a group of uniformed workers across the counter. They work diligently and avoid eye contact. However, such apparent observations miss the complexity of the socio-economic situation of these restaurant workers. The reality is that most of these workers are not only Hispanic but also undocumented. In order to bring more attention to the struggles of undocumented immigrants, I intend to interview four workers within southern California area. My project is designed to shed more light on the working and living conditions of this vulnerable population: what is it like to live and work in a place where your language is not spoken? What is it like to work hard and yet be persistently broke? What is it like to live in a society where your opinions are considered invalid? What is it like to live in fear of deportation? All of these questions will help me provide insight into what it is like to live in fear preventing undocumented immigrants from truly living.