Abstract: The Impact of State-Level Immigrant Inclusionary Policies on Latinx Youth Bullying Victimization (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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314P The Impact of State-Level Immigrant Inclusionary Policies on Latinx Youth Bullying Victimization

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
James Hodges, MSW, Doctoral Student, Boston College, MA
Samantha Marquez McKetchnie, MSW, Doctoral Student, Boston College, MA
Andrés González, Graduate Student, Boston College, MA
Summer Hawkins, PhD, Associate Professor, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Background: Since the mid-2000s, several states have passed legislation directed at including undocumented immigrants in different facets of public life, such as healthcare, higher education, and transportation. In theory, immigrant inclusive state policies should minimize health disparities, both by enabling all immigrants to access needed resources and by symbolically signaling that immigrants are valued members of society. Furthermore, immigrant-related policies often indirectly impact U.S.-born Latinx individuals, as discourses surrounding immigration are increasingly racialized and attitudes toward immigrants often extend to all Latinxs. At the same time, school bullying and cyberbullying are significant adolescent health risk factors, and rates remain stubbornly high at 15-20%. Since ethnoracial minority youth have unique risk factors for bullying, state-level immigrant inclusionary policies could be protective. It remains unclear what impact state-level immigration policies have on Latinx youth bullying victimization outcomes.

Methods: Data were used for all Latinx youth from the 2011-2019 biennial Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) from 44 states (N=128,764). The YRBS contains two self-reported items related to bullying victimization, both in-school and cyber, and sociodemographic information. A dichotomous (yes/no) outcome variable was created indicating any bullying victimization. Data from the National Conference of State Legislatures were used to create seven state-level immigrant-related policies: in-state college tuition, financial aid for college, eligibility for healthcare coverage, mandating culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) trainings for healthcare providers, driver licenses, eligibility for workers’ compensation, and banning the use of eVerify for employment. Policies were dichotomized as 1 if the state explicitly included immigrants and 0 if the state either did not address the issue or explicitly excluded (undocumented) immigrants. We used a difference-in-differences (DiD) logistic regression model to evaluate the impact of state immigration policies on bullying victimization by controlling for sociodemographics and state- and year-fixed effects.

Results: The implementation of policies enabling healthcare coverage for undocumented immigrants reduced the odds of bullying victimization by 53% (p<0.001). The implementation of policies banning employers from using eVerify to established residency reduced the odds of bullying victimization by 47% (p<0.001). Conversely, allowing undocumented immigrants to qualify for financial aid and in-state tuition resulted in a 79% (p=0.020) and 22% (p=0.005) increase in the odds of reporting bullying victimization, respectively. Mandating CLAS trainings, eligibility for workers’ compensation, and driver license laws did not significantly impact bullying victimization.

Conclusions and Implications: Results indicate that state-level immigrant-inclusionary policies have differential effects on self-reported bullying victimization by Latinx youth. The use of a DiD model allows for plausible causal inferences to be made using repeated cross-sections of state-representative data. Furthermore, results suggest these effects apply to all Latinx youth, not just those who are foreign-born. The disturbing results regarding the effects of inclusive higher education policies may represent a xenophobic backlash towards Latinx youth, particularly given that concerns about college may be especially salient to adolescent peers. Social workers, schools and other relevant service providers should consider anti-bullying and anti-bias policies and interventions, monitor and provide psychosocial support to Latinx youth who are victims of bullying, and advocate for immigrant protections.