The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

The Impact of Immigration Policies within Latino Communities

Saturday, January 19, 2013: 8:00 AM-9:45 AM
Seabreeze 1 and 2 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
Cluster: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration
Symposium Organizer:
Elizabeth A. Segal, PhD, Arizona State University
In recent years, a number of states have passed legislation that restricts the rights and resources available to undocumented immigrants, with significant deleterious effects on all immigrants and members of immigrant communities.  The fall-out from these legislated efforts has been far-reaching, with perhaps the most severe impact on Latino communities.  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” (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2009, p. 4).  Relations with public services, particularly law enforcement, have been greatly altered, and the impact on youth has been profound.  This Symposium presents research on the impact the tightening of immigration legislation has had among 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.

* noted as presenting author
Fear of Deportation and Perceptions of Law Enforcement Among Latinos in the United States
David Becerra, PhD, Arizona State University; David K. Androff, PhD, Arizona State University; Jill T. Messing, MSW, PhD, Arizona State University; Jason Castillo, PhD, University of Utah; M. Alex Wagaman, MSW, Arizona State University
Acculturation and Stress Experiences Among Mexican-Heritage Adolescents and Parents Living in Poverty
Elizabeth K. Anthony, PhD, Arizona State University; Jaime Booth, MSW, Arizona State University
Impact of Immigration Policy Tightening On California Latino Residents
Maria Gurrola, PhD, California State University, Long Beach; Cecilia Ayón, PhD, Arizona State University
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