Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 543–551 | Cite as

Coming of Age on the Margins: Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Latino Immigrant Young Adults Eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

  • Rachel Siemons
  • Marissa Raymond-Flesh
  • Colette L. Auerswald
  • Claire D. Brindis
Original Paper

Abstract

Undocumented immigrant young adults growing up in the United States face significant challenges. For those qualified, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program’s protections may alleviate stressors, with implications for their mental health and wellbeing (MHWB). We conducted nine focus groups with 61 DACA-eligible Latinos (ages 18–31) in California to investigate their health needs. Participants reported MHWB as their greatest health concern and viewed DACA as beneficial through increasing access to opportunities and promoting belonging and peer support. Participants found that DACA also introduced unanticipated challenges, including greater adult responsibilities and a new precarious identity. Thus, immigration policies such as DACA may influence undocumented young adults’ MHWB in expected and unexpected ways. Research into the impacts of policy changes on young immigrants’ MHWB can guide stakeholders to better address this population’s health needs. MHWB implications include the need to reduce fear of deportation and increase access to services.

Keywords

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Undocumented Mental health Well-being Latino Immigrants Young adults Qualitative research 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was made possible by funding from the Blue Shield of California Foundation. Rachel Siemons’ time was also supported by the UCSF Dean’s Office Medical Student Research Program, the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program Thesis Grant, and the Schoeneman Grant. Dr. Marissa Raymond-Flesch’s time was supported by the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health Program from the Maternal and Child Health Department (T71MC00003) and the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. Dr. Colette Auerswald’s time was supported by the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program. Dr. Claire Brindis’ time was supported by grants from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (U45MC 00002 and U45MC 00023). We are grateful to the following people for their valuable contributions to this project: Irene Bloemraad, PhD (UC Berkeley, Department of Sociology), Ken Jacobs, BA (UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education), as well as Laurel Lucia, MPP (UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education), Nadereh Pourat, PhD, Efrain Talamantes, MD, MBA, and Max Handler, MPH, MA (UCLA Center for Health Policy Research), our interns Arlette Lozano and Kathy Latthivongskorn, our advisory board members, and our community-based organization partners. Most of all we thank the participants who shared their personal experiences with us.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

None of the authors have conflicts of interest to disclose regarding this research. The study sponsor, Blue Shield Foundation of California, had one representative on the study’s advisory board, but was not directly involved in data collection or analysis, nor required review of this manuscript.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

References

  1. 1.
    Krogstad JM, Passel JS. 5 facts about illegal immigration in the U.S. Pew Research Center. 2015. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/07/24/5-facts-about-illegal-immigration-in-the-u-s/.
  2. 2.
    Hill L, Hayes J. Undocumented Immigrants. Public Policy Institute of California. 2013. http://www.ppic.org/main/publication_show.asp?i=818.
  3. 3.
    Sullivan MM, Rehm R. Mental health of undocumented Mexican immigrants: a review of the literature. Adv Nurs Sci. 2005;28(3):240–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hovey JD, King CA. Acculturative stress, depression, and suicidal ideation among immigrant and second-generation Latino adolescents. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1996;35(9):1183–92.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Crocker R. Emotional testimonies: an ethnographic study of emotional suffering related to migration from Mexico to Arizona. Front Public Health. 2015;3:177.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Potochnick SR, Perreira KM. Depression and anxiety among first-generation immigrant Latino youth. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2010;198(7):470–7.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hacker K, et al. The impact of immigration and customs enforcement on immigrant health: perceptions of immigrants in Everett, Massachusetts, USA. Soc Sci Med. 2011;73(4):586–94.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Abrego LJ, Gonzales RG. Blocked paths, uncertain futures: the postsecondary education and labor market prospects of undocumented Latino youth. J Educ Stud Placed Risk. 2010;15(1–2):144–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Terriquez V. Dreams delayed: barriers to degree completion among undocumented latino community college students. J Ethnic Migr Stud. 2014. doi: 10.1080/1369183X.2014.968534.
  10. 10.
    Gleeson S, Gonzales RG. When do papers matter? An institutional analysis of undocumented life in the United States. Int Migr. 2012;50(4):1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Organista KC. Solving Latino psychosocial and health problems: theory, practice, and populations. Hoboken: Wiley; 2007.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Standish K, et al. Household density among undocumented Mexican immigrants in New York City. J Immigr Minor Health. 2010;12(3):310–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Chavez LR. Undocumented immigrants and their use of medical services in Orange County, California. Soc Sci Med. 2012;74(6):887–93.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Perez C, Fortuna L. Psychological stressors, psychiatric diagnoses and utilization of mental health services among undocumented immigrant Latinos. J Immigr Refugee Serv. 2005;3(1–2):107–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Menjívar C. Liminal legality: Salvadoran and Guatemalan immigrants’ lives in the United States. Am J Sociol. 2006;111(4):999–1037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Stacciarini JM, et al. I didn’t ask to come to this country…I was a child: the mental health implications of growing up undocumented. J Immigr Minor Health. 2014;. doi: 10.1007/s10903-014-0063-2.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Brindis CD, et al. Realizing the dream for californians eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): demographics and health coverage. UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. 2014. http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/realizing-the-dream-for-californians-eligible-for-deferred-action-for-childhood-arrivals-daca-demographics-and-health-coverage/.
  18. 18.
    Raymond-Flesch M, et al. “There is no help out there and if there is, it’s really hard to find”: a qualitative study of the health concerns and health care access of latino “DREAMers”. J Adolesc Health. 2014;55(3):323–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Park MJ, et al. Adolescent and young adult health in the United States in the past decade: little improvement and young adults remain worse off than adolescents. J Adolesc Health. 2014;55(1):3–16.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Setterson RA, Furstenburg FJ, Rumbaut R, editors. On the frontier of adulthood: theory, research, and public policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 2005.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Arnett JJ, Tanner JT. Emerging adults in America: coming of age in the 21st century. Washington: American Psychological Association; 2006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Abrego LJ. I can’t go to college because I don’t have papers: incorporation patterns of Latino undocumented youth. Latino Stud. 2006;4(3):212–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Abrego LJ. Legal consciousness of undocumented Latinos: fear and stigma as barriers to claims-making for first- and 1.5-generation immigrants. Law Soc Rev. 2011;45(2):337–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Gonzales RG. Learning to be illegal: undocumented youth and shifting legal contexts in the transition to adulthood. Am Sociol Rev. 2011;76(4):602–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Gonzales RG, et al. No place to belong: contextualizing concepts of mental health among undocumented immigrant youth in the United States. Am Behav Sci. 2013;57(8):1174–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). 2015. http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca.
  27. 27.
    Batalova J, et al. DACA at the two year mark: a national and state profile of youth eligible and applying for deferred action. Migration Policy Institute. 2014. http://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/daca-two-year-mark-national-and-state-profile-youth-eligible-and-applying-deferred-action.
  28. 28.
    Gonzales RG, Bautista-Chavez AM. Two Years and Counting: Assessing the Growing Power of DACA. American Immigration Council. 2014. http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/sites/default/files/docs/two_years_and_counting_assessing_the_growing_power_of_daca_final.pdf.
  29. 29.
    Gonzales RG, et al. Becoming DACAmented: assessing the short-term benefits of deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA). Am Behav Sci. 2014;58(14):1852–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    World Health Organization. Strengthening mental health promotion. Geneva, World Health Organization (Fact sheet no. 220), 2001.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Perez Huber L, Malagon MC. Silenced struggles: the experiences of Latina and Latino undocumented college students in California. Nev Law J. 2007;7:841–61.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Perez W, et al. Academic resilience among undocumented Latino students. Hispanic J Behav Sci. 2009;31(2):149–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Bronfrenbrenner U. The ecology of human development. Cambridge: Harvard Press; 1979.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    McLeroy KR, Steckler A, Bibeau D. The social ecology of health promotion interventions. Health Educ Q. 1998;15(4):351–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Strauss A, Corbin J. Basics of qualitative research: techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage; 1998.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Hill CE, Knox S, Thompson BJ, Williams EN, Hess SA, Ladany N. Consensual qualitative research: an update. J Couns Psychol. 2005;52(2):196–205. doi: 10.1037/0022-0167.52.2.196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Dedoose Version 5.0.11, web application for managing, analyzing, and presenting qualitative and mixed method research data. Los Angeles, CA: SocioCultural Research Consultants, LLC. 2014. www.dedoose.com.
  38. 38.
    Suárez-Orozco C, et al. Growing up in the shadows: the developmental implications of unauthorized status. Harvard Educ Rev. 2011;81(3):438–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Martinez LM. Dreams deferred: the impact of legal reforms on undocumented Latino youth. Am Behav Sci. 2014;58(14):1873–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Ellis LM, Chen EC. Negotiating identity development among undocumented immigrant college students: a grounded theory study. J Couns Psychol. 2013;60(2):251–64.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Abrego LJ. Legitimacy, social identity, and the mobilization of law: the effects of Assembly Bill 540 on undocumented students in California. Law Soc Inq. 2008;33(3):709–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    World Health Organization. Framework and statement: consultation on the drafts of the “Health in All Policies Framework for Country Action” for the Conference Statement of 8th Global Conference on Health Promotion. 2013. http://www.healthpromotion2013.org/conference-programme/framework-and-statement.
  43. 43.
    US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security: Executive Actions on Immigration: President Obama’s Executive Actions on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), November 20, 2014. http://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel Siemons
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Marissa Raymond-Flesh
    • 4
  • Colette L. Auerswald
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Claire D. Brindis
    • 4
  1. 1.University of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.University of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.Joint Medical ProgramUC Berkeley School of Public HealthBerkeleyUSA
  4. 4.Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, Division of Adolescent & Young Adult Medicine, Department of PediatricsUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

Personalised recommendations