Methods: The present study draws from a multisite study of recently-arrived (≤ 3 years) Venezuelan youth (ages 10-16) in Miami and Orlando, Florida. A total of 260 youth were recruited via community-based partner organizations using respondent-driven sampling strategies between December 2018 and March 2019. Among the survey items, youth participants completed measures examining perceived discrimination (Cronbach’s α = 0.80; Phinney et al., 1998), negative context of reception (Cronbach’s α = 0.91; Schwartz et al., 2014), and substance use normative beliefs (Cronbach’s α = 0.86; Marsiglia et al., 2016). All surveys were completed in Spanish and all measures were back-translated and reviewed for linguistic and cultural appropriateness. Focus groups (N = 4) were conducted with study participants in Miami and Orlando using an explanatory sequential mixed methods design.
Results: The mean age for respondents was 13.5 years (SD = 1.9), 50% were female, and 58% had migrated to the US since 2017. One in six Venezuelan youth reported recurrent discrimination from other youth or teachers (17%) and 21% reported experiencing, on average, a negative context of reception across multiple domains. The path model showed good fit (χ2 = 12.3, p = .138; CFI = 0.967, RMSEA = 0.055). Path analysis results revealed that discrimination was related to substance use normative beliefs indirectly (β = .049, p < .01) via family communication and family support. Supplemental analyses also revealed that substance use normative beliefs robustly predicted past month tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana use (AOR = 10.46, 95% CI = 3.87-28.27). Focus group results provide qualitative insight into the migration-related experiences of Venezuelan youth and their relationships with family functioning and substance use risk.
Conclusions and Implications: Many Venezuelans in the US face an uncertain future as they await asylum hearings and adapt to life in a society in the midst of bitter debate over immigration and changing demographics. The present study provides new evidence on the experiences of recently-arrived Venezuelan youth, laying the groundwork for community partnerships to develop guidelines, best practices, and intervention recommendations that will guide the future development of preventive interventions.