How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Coming out undocumented: A growing movement, but still contentious (Audio)

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A student activist's t-shirt at a "coming out" event in Orange County, Calif., March 2011

The act of "coming out" as undocumented to make a political statement has gained traction in recent years among young immigrant activists, many of them college students or graduates who were brought to the United States illegally as children and have never been able to adjust their immigration status.

For those involved in a growing movement that has become a rite of passage for many, there is the perception of strength in numbers. But does this make going public with one's immigration status a wise thing to do? Has it become any safer? And for those who aren't familiar with the movement, what reactions does it elicit?

Today, at the tail end of what's become known "National Coming Out of the Shadows Week," KPCC's Patt Morrisson Show addressed these and other questions in a segment; I joined Patt as a guest, along with immigration attorney and political science professor Louis A. Gordon and two young people who have both "come out," Nancy Meza and John Perez.