Friday, January 13, 2012: 10:00 AM-11:45 AM
Constitution E (Grand Hyatt Washington)
Cluster: Gender and Ethnicity
Elizabeth A. Segal, PhD, Arizona State University
The history of immigration to the United States includes periods of intense anti-immigrant sentiment. The attacks of 9/11, compounded by economic recession, contributed to increased public distress over the identification and employment of immigrants. Numerous state legislative actions contributed to and became a reflection of an anti-immigrant climate. The greatest attention has focused on those who are undocumented and illegally in the country whose population is significantly composed of people from Latin America. However, all Latinos are affected. Recent research by the Southern Poverty Law Center (2009) found that Latinos are “routinely cheated out of their earnings and denied basic health and safety precautions…are regularly subjected to racial profiling and harassment by law enforcement…[and] are victimized by criminals who know they are reluctant to report attacks” (p. 4) all as a consequence of increasing anti-immigrant sentiments. More than 45 million people, greater than 15% of the U.S. population, identify as Latino (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). This symposium will explore the impact of an increasing anti-immigrant climate on health and well-being among Latinos. The first paper in this symposium analyzes qualitative data from 26 Latino immigrants reflecting their assessment of the impact of recent laws affecting immigrant families. Participants shared feelings of isolation, powerlessness, frustration, fear, stress and chronic trauma as a result of anti-immigrant policies and sentiments. The second paper examines Latinos' perceptions of the quality of heath care treatment, discrimination, and access to health information. Emphasis was placed on less acculturated individuals, hypothesizing that the growing anti-immigrant climate would negatively affect their health care. Data on 4,013 Latino adults from the 2007 Pew Hispanic Center stratified Random Digit Dialing sample revealed that Latino adults with lower acculturation levels reported greater discrimination in health care treatment, lower quality of care, and greater challenges than those who were more acculturated. The third paper focuses on research methodology with Latino youth and adults in the politically charged environment of anti-immigrant sentiments. The methodologies used in two different studies, one using qualitative methods with 25 adults and the other using quantitative methods with 164 adolescent/parent pairs, are discussed. Guidelines for eliciting information from vulnerable and hesitant populations in spite of the surrounding anti-immigrant climate are presented. The fourth paper reports on the testing of a model for social empathy. The concerns of immigrants are often foreign to those in power and the dominant culture. Providing empathic insights into their needs can lead to better social and political policies. Data from 353 university participants using an instrument to measure social empathy and social justice were analyzed. The final model (explaining 42% of the variance) suggests that social empathy can lead to social justice, a valuable tool in this period of anti-immigrant sentiment. Together, these four papers present research findings on the impact of anti-immigration sentiment. Symposium participants will gain deeper understanding of the impact of current anti-immigration policies on social work practice and community well-being and strategies to promote social justice. Implications for further research will also be discussed.
* noted as presenting author
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