Risk and Protective Factors for Well-Being in Latinx Immigrants in Removal Proceedings
Recent figures estimate roughly 12 million undocumented immigrants live in the U.S. (Baker, 2018; Capps, Fix, & Zong, 2016), 1,101,061 of which have pending immigration court cases, and over 80% of which are Latinx (TRAC, 2020a). Despite legal protections in other areas of the U.S. justice system, there is little opportunity for relief for adults going through deportation proceedings (Koh, 2017a) and no right to government-funded representation (Hausman & Srikantiah, 2016). There is little research on the effect of immigration court on the well-being of immigrants, and no empirical data on risk and protective factors in the court context. Against this background, this study aimed to examine how hopelessness and helplessness (i.e., risk factors) and social, religious, and legal support (i.e., protective factors) relate to the emotional and physical well-being of Latinx individuals facing removal proceedings. All participants (n = 157; 31.2% male) were adult (18 to 69 years old) respondents with an active immigration court case. Overall, results indicated higher levels of hopelessness and helplessness (individually and cumulatively) were associated with poorer outcomes, while social and religious aggregate support did not serve as a protective factor attenuating the relation between risk and outcome variables. Finally, contrary to hypotheses, legal support served as a risk factor for individuals high on helplessness, such that more legal support was associated with worse outcomes. Several explanations for results are offered. While findings inform immigration-related policy, results also have implications for our nation’s economy, healthcare system, and citizens.