Students on Their Own: How Aggressive Immigration Enforcement Breaks Up Families and Impacts Youth's Psychosocial Functioning
AuthorThompson, Miriam Eady
AdvisorSulkowski, Michael L.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe United States is in the midst of demographic transformation that will continue to diversify the cultural, ethnic, racial, and linguistic landscape of the country. Within the last decade, millions of immigrant families have emigrated to the U.S. to escape tremendous hardships in their native countries. These families are guided by the hope of creating a stable, safe, and comfortable environment for their children. Unfortunately, the pathway to citizenship and authorized entry into the U.S. is convoluted (Kremer, Moccio,& Hammell, 2009) and families are frequently assigned wait times that can last several years (U.S. Department of State, 2013). These very long wait times are an unfortunate reality for several families, which is one of the many reasons some families enter the U.S. without authorization. Upon arrival into the U.S., many immigrant families experience anti-immigrant attitudes, prejudicial law enforcement practices, and feel socially isolated. The U.S. born children of these immigrant families are at risk for being separated from their parents who lack authorized resident status. In this regard, over 100,000 parents of U.S. citizen children were deported between 1998 and 2007 (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2012). However, little is known about how these children cope with the loss of their parents. To date, no research has been conducted that measures the psychosocial impact of parental absence because of aggressive immigration enforcement. Thus, a patent need exists for research on the psychosocial implications of parental absence in a child's life because of deportation. This study addressed the psychosocial impact of parental loss because of aggressive immigration enforcement. All participants of this study completed a demographic questionnaire and two technically adequate standardized psychosocial assessments that measured emotional symptoms. A two-group independent samples design was employed that included a sample of youth who were homeless because their parents were impacted by immigration and customs enforcement and a sample of youth who were homeless for other reasons. The present study sought to answer the following questions: Are there significant differences in emotional symptoms between youth who are living on their own as a result of immigration enforcement in comparison to those youth who are living on their own for other reasons? Are there significant differences in emotional symptoms between U.S. citizen and non-U.S. citizen youth? Do significant differences exist in perceptions of school climate between youth who are living on their own as a result of immigration enforcement in comparison to those youth who are living on their own for other reasons? Is the quality of relationships with parents significantly different between youth who are living on their own as a result of immigration enforcement in comparison to those youth who are living on their own for other reasons? Do significant differences exist in emotional symptoms between youth whose parents have been impacted by immigration and customs enforcement (ICE; Impacted by ICE group) in comparison to youth whose parents have been impacted by immigration enforcement for other reasons (Homeless for Other Reasons group)? Lastly, are there significant differences in perception of school climate between U.S. citizen and non-U.S. citizen youth? Results of this study did not reveal significant differences in emotional symptoms between the Impacted by ICE group and the Homeless for Other Reasons group. However, in terms of how they perceived their relationships with their parents, the Impacted by Immigration group reported more positive relations with their parents. There were significant differences regarding perceptions of school climate between the Impacted by ICE and Homeless for Other Reasons groups. Intra-group analyses within the Impacted by Immigration group indicated significant differences in perceptions of school climate among authorized U.S. citizens and unauthorized non-U.S. citizens. Unauthorized non-U.S. citizens tended to perceive school climate more favorably than U.S. citizens.
Degree ProgramGraduate College