Dr. Luis Macías Forges New Paths of Understanding Undocumented Youth


January 2018

By Andrew Peper

Dr. Luis Fernando Macías is a MACIE graduate, and is now an assistant professor in Chicano and Latin American Studies at Fresno State University, California. Topics he examines include Latino studies, immigration studies, and ethnic studies.

Dr. Macías grew up in El Paso, Texas on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. His mother moved his family there so that they would have the opportunity to pursue their education. Growing up, he was enrolled in an ESL program. He then went on to pursue a degree in Spanish/Translation at the University of Texas at El Paso.

After his undergraduate studies he joined the Peace Corps, serving as an ESL teacher in Kazakhstan.

Following his return, he worked as a Board of Immigration Appeals Accredited Representative for an immigration non-profit organization in El Paso, Texas.

Coming to Bowling Green State University and the MACIE program

With these immigrant advocacy and international ESL teaching experiences, Macías applied for the MACIE program through the Peace Corps Coverdell Fellowship program.

Reflecting on this, Dr. Macías states, “MACIE stood out for several reasons; it seemed to really take into consideration the skill set that I had and how I would be able to contribute to the classroom and what I would be able to learn as well.”

Before entering the MACIE program, Macías never really saw himself as being able to contribute to scholarship, but said that through the guidance and mentorship of MACIE faculty he realized that research and scholarship needs voices like his and that he could participate. As he states, “MACIE helped me figure out that I had a unique contribution to make to scholarship, [and] I had a voice that reflected the experiences of many people like myself, but without speaking on their behalf.”

Unique aspects of the MACIE program

Speaking on some of the aspects that make the program and the students that are enrolled in it special, Macías states, “They have an organically diversified the student body in such a way that it reflects the mission of MACIE….. You have students that have very important international experience, bringing that to the classroom here.”

While talking about the focus of the MACIE program and its curriculum he spoke about how the program itself had a curricula that reflected the student body, a direction relation to “the issues that are going on in global education.” Dr. Macías goes on to say; “You are not only living in theory, in curriculum, but able to connect the dots in a program that has produced scholars, advocates, administrators, and educators. MACIE has really gotten a hold of what they want to produce; a variety of globally and socially conscious minded individuals.”

Current areas of work and research

Dr. Macías has been doing research on the experiences of DACA students and related issues pertaining to equity. DACA was an executive action take in 2012, approved by President Obama. It is a deferred action from deportation. It did not exempt recipients from deportation, but Immigration & Customs enforcement deprioritized eligible people. DACA allowed eligible people to apply for work permits that they could renew every two years.

Much of Dr. Macías research has taken place in the Ohio area; “Ohio is an emerging immigrant state, and North West Ohio has very rich historic and emerging immigrant communities.” Much of his research has been specifically on how DACA residents in Ohio are effected by legislation and how they affect legislation. As he puts it; “I am researching how DACA recipients in Ohio have changed [toward] state tuition legislation to be inclusive of them, that they continue to advocate for themselves and for the group as a whole to be admitted equally into institutions of higher education, and how it is that they are able to continue their education even though they are excluded from federal financial aid, from U.S. citizenship, and residency, and what does that perseverance look like without feeding into the narrative of ‘exceptional dreamer’.”

He believes that all students should have equal opportunities; “Why can’t you be an average student and still have the foundation to reach excellence through the support of institutions?”

With recent legislation, DACA has been effectively canceled and this has left many unsure if they will be able to keep their current jobs and be able to still afford schooling as well as the worry about their current documentation status. One of the most important things Dr. Macías wants us all to remember is that migrants “are economically, socially, and culturally are all part of the fabric of the United States.”