Methods: This study used a community-based participatory research approach and engaged four community agency partners, who provided referrals to stakeholders and informed the research process. A total of n=23 semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with community stakeholders, including 13 community organization leaders, 5 local government representatives and 5 state government officials serving immigrant families in some capacity. The interview protocol was developed from prior literature and direct experience with immigrant populations, and with input from community partners. A constant comparative method was employed to analyze the qualitative data.
Results: Community providers and government officials described themes organized in two broad categories: 1) multiple challenges made worse by the pandemic; and 2) innovative strategies in response to the increased need for services among immigrant families. Informed by the perspectives of local leaders, this paper details the unique services access challenges experienced by immigrant families along the U.S.-Mexico border as well as the following four innovative community integration strategies (sub-themes): 1) Community organizing and empowerment; 2) Immigrant inclusivity in community agency practice; 3) Community partnerships united around immigrants; and 4) Benefits of local sanctuary policies.
Conclusions and Implications: Solutions presented illustrate local-level approaches focused on increasing the inclusion and integration of immigrant communities within an anti-immigrant federal policy context, that effectively reduced structural barriers and expanded equitable access to essential health and social services for immigrant families.