The Impact of Immigration Policies within Latino Communities
The first paper in this symposium analyzes quantitative data from a sample of 2,015 Latino adults in the United States. Examining the relationship between the fear of deportation and perceptions of law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and the willingness to report crimes among Latinos, the findings of this research revealed that Latinos who had a greater fear of deportation had less confidence that law enforcement would protect their safety and treat them fairly. These findings raise issues of concern for the safety, protection and well-being of Latino communities.
Perhaps most vulnerable to the impact of community stress are youth. The second and third papers of this symposium present research on the impact acculturation, stress, poverty, intimate partner violence, and immigrant experiences have on youth living in Latino communities. The second paper examines the intersection of racial discrimination, poverty and stress for early adolescents living in urban public housing sites. Acculturation, a significant task for Latino youth, was correlated with stress for the sample of 162 early adolescents, raising issues of concern for their health and well-being. The third paper examined exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) among Mexican American adolescents. More than half of the 279 youth reported witnessing at least 1 incident of IPV within the prior two weeks. Youth were exposed to violence across the ecosystem, suggesting that community stress is taking an added toll on Latino families.
The fourth paper examines incidents of discrimination experienced by Latino immigrant residents of a community in Southern California. Six focus groups were conducted with 108 participants in which experiences of discrimination were recounted and analyzed. Participants reported discriminatory incidents in structured settings such as work and social service agencies, as well as on the streets and in children’s schools, suggesting that the climate of anti-Latino sentiment has been growing.
Together, these four papers provide empirical findings illustrating the impact of stringent policies and actions against immigrants, particularly Latino immigrants. Symposium participants will gain a deeper understanding of the impact of state immigration policies on social work practice and community well-being. Implications for further research will also be discussed.