Graduating senior Daisy Vera has spent her time at UCI advocating for immigrant resources while completing her double major in political science and Chicano/Latino studies. But she’s also taken her efforts one step further than most students by conducting research on topics affecting the immigrant community. She’s already been recognized for her exceptional research, having earned the Chicano/Latino studies Certificate for Excellence in Undergraduate Research in 2015. Now, on the cusp of her commencement, she’s being recognized again – Vera’s paper on Assembly Bill 60 and access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants has earned her the Alice B. Macy Outstanding Undergraduate Paper Award.

Vera has demonstrated interest in assisting the immigrant community throughout her UCI career. She has been a member of Students Advocating for Immigrant Rights and Equity (SAFIRE) for more than three years, and was a part of the DREAMers Advocate Program. With the support of her advisors, professor Louis DeSipio and professor Laura Enriquez, Vera expanded on her involvement with the immigrant community and conducted research on Assembly Bill 60, which allowed undocumented immigrants access to driver’s licenses in California starting in 2015. Vera notes that the year the bill went into effect, approximately 31% of the state’s undocumented immigrants applied for their licenses, with 72% of those who applied succeeding.

In her paper, Vera looked closely at why some people – the approximately 28% of those who applied in 2015 – were not able to obtain their driver’s license. Her findings indicate that immigrants from Asia, Africa, and Central America are at a particular disadvantage than those from other parts of the globe, and she settled on two specific barriers in particular that present issues; language literacy and the need for specific forms of identification. To come to this conclusion, Vera drew from 14 interviews with various staff members of immigrant and racial/ethnic serving organizations in Southern California.

The Alice B. Macy Award includes a prize of $300. Vera will be recognized at the 2017 Order of Merit Ceremony on June 16.

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