Phenomenological Inquiry of Disclosures in Romantic Relationships Among Undocumented Immigrants with DACA

Gabriela Munoz De Zubiria, Fordham University


This qualitative study explored how undocumented immigrants who are receiving Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) navigate the decision-making process of sharing their immigration status with romantic partners and the implications of such disclosure on their relationships. Informed by the literature on stigma (Goffman, 1963) and concealable stigmatized identities (Quinn, 2006), the study aimed to gain a deeper understanding of disclosure decision-making and to identify common themes and patterns in the experiences of DACA recipients. A purposive sample of 17 individuals, aged between 23 and 34 (M = 27.17, SD = 2.89), all currently receiving DACA and in a relationship with a U.S. citizen partner, participated in the study. Participants represented a culturally diverse Latin American population. Data were collected through a brief demographic questionnaire and a semi-structured, audio-recorded interview that ranged from 42 to 100 minutes in length (M = 63.56, SD = 15.43). The interviews were analyzed using a phenomenological research methodology approach (Moustakas, 1994) to identify emerging themes. The data analysis resulted in five major themes: perceived safety in the disclosure process, motivation to disclose in romantic relationships, the effect of disclosures on romantic relationships, the psychological impact of disclosures, and additional forces impacting disclosure decisions. Additionally, findings demonstrated 17 minor themes that further contextualize the major themes. Study results give voice to the lived experiences of undocumented immigrants, particularly those who are receiving DACA, and offer insights and information for their disclosure decision-making processes. Implications for future research, clinical practice, training, and limitations, are also discussed.

Subject Area

Counseling Psychology|Latin American Studies|Social psychology|Social research

Recommended Citation

Munoz De Zubiria, Gabriela, "Phenomenological Inquiry of Disclosures in Romantic Relationships Among Undocumented Immigrants with DACA" (2024). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30814361.