Session: Immigration Status As a Social Determinant of Racial and Economic Inequality (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

252 Immigration Status As a Social Determinant of Racial and Economic Inequality

Saturday, January 18, 2020: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
Independence BR B, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Immigrants and Refugees (I&R)
Symposium Organizer:
Rupaleem Bhuyan, PhD, University of Toronto
The resurgence of anti-immigrant sentiment in immigrant receiving countries, like the United States and Canada, represents a pressing social just concern especially for undocumented immigrants who face the threat of deportation along with racial discrimination and economic insecurity. As Sociologist Roberto Gonzalez (2015) has argued, immigration status functions as a “master status” in the lives of immigrants through organizing the social, political, and economic resources available to immigrants as well as processes of stigmatization and discrimination that negatively impact people who are constructed in media and political rhetoric as "illegal," "criminal",' or "threats" to society.

The following papers present research from Canada and the United States to develop a cross-national understanding of the discriminatory effects of anti-immigrant sentiment and accompanying structural inequalities on the well-being of undocumented or precarious status immigrants, with direct implications for social work practice.

The first paper links macro and micro practice, through a psychoanalytic analysis of news coverage of the Trump administration's rhetoric of the “migration crisis” in the United States. Using select psychoanalytic constructs, Lee & Bhuyan present a critical discourse analysis of the Trump Administration's response to asylum claims related to domestic violence and gang violence. Their findings illustrate how political construction of the feared bad object/immigrants corresponds with construction of the imagined good object/nationalism as exemplified by Trump's motto – Making America Great Again (MAGA). Lee & Bhuyan discuss how attention to veiled racist political discourse can be addressed in clinical practice.

Park and colleagues' survey of social workers' attitudes towards immigrants in the United States indicate a troubling degree of anti-immigrant sentiment among social workers who do not perceive immigrants as facing discrimination and endorse anti-immigrant views towards undocumented immigrants. Park and colleagues call for deepening social workers' knowledge of structural barriers faced by immigrants, particularly related to race and national origin, towards improving outcomes for immigrants seeking social services.

Drawing upon research on immigrant settlement service in Ontario, Canada, Bhuyan and Schmidt employ an intersectional, gender-based analysis of racial and economic inequality in the lives of refugee claimants, low-skilled temporary foreign workers, international students, and immigrants with less access to financial capital. Their findings illustrate how gender, precarious status, racialization and financial security increase immigrant women's vulnerability to long periods of family separation, employer abuse and exploitation, and limited access to social and health services.

The final paper focusses on how immigrant families prepare their children for enduring racial and structural inequalities. Cross reports findings from a mixed-methods longitudinal study with Latinx immigrant parents in the United States. This research identifies how Latinx parents mobilize cultural practices to mitigate the threat of deportation and prepare their children to face experiences of discrimination outside of the home.

* noted as presenting author
Perceptions of Structural Inequality and Attitudes Towards Undocumented Immigrants Among U.S. Social Workers
Yoosun Park, PhD, Smith College; Maria Torres, PhD, Smith College; Andrew Rundle, DrPH, Columbia University
Precarious Immigrant Pathways: A Gender-Based Analysis of Racial and Economic Insecurity for Immigrant Women in Canada
Rupaleem Bhuyan, PhD, University of Toronto; Catherine Schmidt, MSW, University of Toronto
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