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Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 94, Issue 6, pp 764–775 | Cite as

Legal Status, Time in the USA, and the Well-Being of Latinos in Los Angeles

  • Maria-Elena De Trinidad YoungEmail author
  • Anne R. Pebley
Article

Abstract

In the USA, undocumented Latino immigrants may have poorer health because of barriers to health care, stressors, and detrimental effects of immigration enforcement. Previous immigrant health research, however, suggests that recently arrived Latino immigrants have better health than US-born Latinos and their health deteriorates over time. Given the current environments that undocumented immigrants face, legal status is a structural factor that likely influences the patterns of immigrant health. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the extent to which physical and mental health differed by legal status and duration in the USA for the Latino population in Los Angeles County, California. We conducted analysis of Latino respondents (n = 1396) to the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey (L.A.FANS) Wave II. We examined self-reported health, depression measured by the Composite International Diagnostic Interview—Short Form, and blood pressure collected by trained interviewers. Respondents reported their legal status, time in the USA, and other sociodemographic characteristics. Regression models were used to test associations between each outcome and 1) legal status and 2) legal status by duration (≤ 15 and > 15 years) in the USA. Without taking duration into account, we found no significant differences in outcomes between undocumented, documented, or US-born Latinos. Taking duration into account, shorter duration undocumented immigrants had worse self-reported health than the US born. Undocumented immigrants, regardless of duration, had higher blood pressure than documented immigrants who had been in the USA for less time and the same level of blood pressure as the US born. In contrast, shorter duration documented immigrants had lower blood pressure compared to longer duration documented immigrants and US-born counterparts, and marginally lower blood pressure than shorter duration undocumented immigrants. The findings suggest that the “health advantage” generally presumed to exist among immigrants may not affect undocumented immigrants.

Keywords

Immigrants Latino Undocumented status Health Depression Blood pressure 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by a Graduate Summer Research Mentorship from the UCLA Graduate Division and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD051764 and R24HD041022).

Supplementary material

11524_2017_197_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (11 kb)
Supplemental Table A (XLSX 10 kb)

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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria-Elena De Trinidad Young
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anne R. Pebley
    • 1
  1. 1.University of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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