Deportation Fears Putting Mental Strain on Hispanic Families

From - March 1, 2018

Deportation Fears Putting Mental Strain on Hispanic Families

THURSDAY, March 1, 2018 -- Recent U.S. immigration policy changes are causing significant mental distress for many Hispanic parents in the country, a new study finds.

A "substantial proportion" of Hispanic parents surveyed reported that "they are avoiding authorities, warning their children to change their routines and worrying about the future due to recent U.S. immigration policies and news," said study lead author Kathleen Roche.

Nearly all of the teens whose parents were surveyed were either U.S. citizens or protected under Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The U.S. Supreme Court's refusal on Monday to hear an appeal of a recent DACA ruling gave DACA recipients a temporary reprieve, but the program's fate is still unclear. President Donald Trump still wants to end the program that protects these "dreamers."

The uncertainty and fear immigrant families are living with can take a toll on mental health, said Roche. She is an associate professor of prevention and community health at George Washington University School of Public Health in Washington, D.C.

Parents experiencing these kinds of immigration-related concerns "appear to be at a very high risk of anxiety, depression, and other forms of distress," Roche said.

The researchers surveyed more than 200 Hispanic parents of teen children in a suburb of a large East Coast city. More than two-thirds of the parents were either citizens, permanent residents, or under temporary protected status.

Many said recent immigration actions and news have had emotional and behavioral effects. For example, nearly two-thirds said they very often or always worried about family members getting separated.

Nearly 40 percent said they often avoided getting medical care, help from police, or support from social services because of immigration actions and news.

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