The Effect of Unpreparedness for Immigration Court on Psychopathology in Recently Immigrated Adolescents



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Violence and economic hardship in Central America have resulted in a surge of immigrants, many of whom are adolescents, entering the U.S. These individuals are at a high risk for developing psychopathology, and face continued adversity in immigration court, as the majority go into court blind to the process, their rights, and the special protections granted to them. To date, there is no empirical data regarding the relation between Perceived Preparedness for Immigration Court (PPIC), an individual’s recognized readiness for, and knowledge of, immigration court, nor Intolerance of Unpreparedness (IUP), an individual’s tendency to react negatively to situations in which they do not feel prepared, and emotional symptoms among immigrant youth. Thus, this study had two aims: (1) examine the psychometric properties of two new measures, the Perceived Preparedness for Immigration Court Scale (PPICS) and the Intolerance of Unpreparedness Scale for Immigration Court (IUPS), in Spanish-speaking immigrant youth, and (2) explore interrelations between these constructs and emotional symptoms. The IUPS, PPICS, Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ; Goodman, 1997), and Big Five Inventory (BFI; Benet-Martínez & John, 1998) were administered to each participant. The factor structure of the IUPS was examined using confirmatory and exploratory factor analyses. The PPICS and IUPS exhibited adequate internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha equals .90 and .80, respectively). Convergent validity with the IUPS and the BFI Neuroticism subscale was r = .32 (p = .005). Moderated moderation was examined using a regression framework with SDQ Emotional Symptoms as the dependent variable, the PPICS as the independent variable, and the IUPS and gender as moderating variables. Evidence of IUPS as a significant moderator of the relation between PPIC and Emotional Symptoms was noted in females but not males. Future research should explore the temporal order of PPIC, IUP, and Emotional Symptoms, and examine PPIC and IUP as targets for intervention.



Spanish, Immigration Court, Adolescents, Intolerance of unpreparedness, Perceived preparedness for immigration court