Background and Objective: Restrictive immigration policies and discrimination are associated with negative health outcomes for immigrant and Latino families. Mixed-status families represent a unique subpopulation of Latinos affected by restrictive immigration policies. This qualitative study explored discrimination against mixed-status families and its potential health impact on Latino children from the perspective of Latina mothers.
Methods: In 2017, twenty in-depth interviews with Latina mothers of mixed-status families living in northwestern North Carolina were conducted, transcribed, and analyzed. Constant comparison, an approach to grounded theory development, was used.
Results: Nine themes emerged that reflected experiences with discrimination and its negative impact on children. Themes included more frequent and severe discrimination during and after the 2016 US presidential election, determination to stay together and remain in the US, experiences of discrimination in multiple settings, the impact of discrimination on child health and well-being, the impact of fear and stress on meeting the needs of children, the burden on children serving as liaisons between families and services, the inability of citizenship to protect against the effects of discrimination, positive and hopeful responses to discrimination, and the potential role of education in building a foundation for reducing discrimination (and thus promoting the health and well-being of Latino children) in the future.
Conclusions: Discrimination against mixed-status Latino families constitutes a critical threat to the health and well-being of Latino children. Further research should inform immigration policies that support (rather than threaten) the health, well-being, and health care practices that mitigate the stresses experienced by Latino children.
Key Take Away Points
- Restrictive immigration policies have been associated with psychological distress and increased risk of acute and chronic health problems for immigrant and Latino families. Mixed-status families represent a unique subset of families affected by restrictive immigration policies.
- Amidst current policy changes, discrimination against mixed-status Latino families constitutes a critical threat to health and well-being.
- This study reveals nine themes reflecting experiences of discrimination faced by mixed-status families and its potential health impact on Latino children.
Margaret A. Singer has a B.A. in chemistry and is a medical student at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. Manuela Gutierrez Velez has a B.S. in biochemistry and is a medical student at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. Scott D. Rhodes, PhD, MPH, is professor in and chair of the Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy, Wake Forest School of Medicine. He also directs the Wake Forest Clinical and Translational Science Institute Program in Community Engagement. Julie M. Linton, MD is an Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, the Medical Director of PASOs Greenville, and Adjunct Faculty in Pediatrics and Public Health at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. Dr. Linton was previously an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, the Advocacy Director for the Wake Forest Pediatric Residency Program, and the Associate Director of the Integrating Special Populations Program at the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity.
Funding Source: Research support was provided by the Wake Forest Clinical and Translational Science Institute Program in Community Engagement , which is supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), National Institutes of Health, through Grant Award Number UL1TR001420. Acknowledgements The authors acknowledge Keren Ferris, MPH, from the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity Integrating Special Populations Program for her assistance with this research. We also acknowledge Daniel P. Krowchuk, MD, for his critical review of this manuscript.
Singer, Margaret A. BA; Gutierrez Velez, Manuela BS; Rhodes, Scott D. PhD, MPH; and Linton, Julie M. M.D.
"Discrimination against Mixed-Status Families and its Health Impact on Latino Children,"
Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk: Vol. 10:
1, Article 6.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/childrenatrisk/vol10/iss1/6