“Spare Parts” Documents the Struggles of Undocumented Immigrants in Technology
In 2004, four undocumented high school students Cristian Arcega, Lorenzo Santillan, Luis Aranda, and Oscar Vazquez, from Phoenix, Arizona competed in a naval robotics competition sponsored by NASA. Despite having less resources these students were able to win the competition beating out elite universities like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Davis, 2004).
After their victory Wired Magazine published a story profiling each of the team’s members and discussing their difficulties with the immigration system and its effects on their opportunities and resources before and after the competition. Despite their acclaimed win in the national competition, each of the students had difficulties in finding gainful employment or furthering their studies in technology and the sciences (Davis, 2004). Ten years after Wired’s original article, a new movie is slated for release documenting the team’s experiences at the competition and their current lives (Wired, 2014). Despite recent improvements in immigrant integration on a national level some of the team’s members continue to struggle with their immigrant status.
About this project
The Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, a university research center with the mission to address the challenges and opportunities of demographic diversity in the 21st century global city, has produced these featured digital publications using the USC Media Curator, an online publishing platform designed to bring together innovative research from across the University of Southern California and beyond. This project curates research relevant for immigrant service providers on the topics of Access & Use of Technology, Access & Use of Financial Services, Notario Fraud, and Driver's Licenses for the unauthorized.