Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Dr. Christina Spoons


Poverty in the United States has been widely explored, but very seldom does research consider the impacts of poverty among undocumented immigrants. As a result, policymakers are unable to account for or accommodate the unique needs of undocumented immigrants. Using Dalton's theory of the psychology of poverty, this case study explored the experiences of undocumented immigrants in Immokalee, Florida to better understand how the current policy landscape impacts their existence and livelihoods. The data were collected through 18 interviews with undocumented immigrants and a review of government data related to poverty among this population from the United States Census Bureau, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Bureau of Labor. All data were inductively coded and subjected to thematic analysis. Findings indicate that these undocumented immigrants in South Florida experienced a range of social and economic depravities, including stress, fear, and anxiety as well as inadequate housing and poor health and nutrition, particularly among children, all of which are consistent with Dalton's theory of the psychology of poverty. Another key finding reinforces previous research that undocumented workers were subject to inadequate working conditions and were at risk of exploitation by employers, particularly in the agricultural industry. The positive social change implications stemming from this study include recommendations to policymakers in South Florida to develop policies to alleviate uncertainty for undocumented immigrants, including creating policy to specifically address inadequate working conditions in order to reduce the potential exploitation of socio-economically marginalized workers.