A Qualitative Study of Immigration Policies and Rhetoric in the Lives of Immigrant Young Adults from Latin America

Negrete, Andrea, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Hurd, Noelle, AS-Psychology, University of Virginia

In the last several decades, there has been a rise in anti-immigration policies and enforcement of those policies aimed at detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants and restricting new migration to the United States. The sociopolitical climate has had a profound impact on the lives of Latinx immigrants in the United States. Yet, more research is needed to better understand how immigrant young adults from Latin America of various legal statuses are being impacted by immigration policy and rhetoric, as well as the assets and resources they draw upon to foster well-being in the face of risk. I conducted qualitative interviews with immigrant young adults (ages 18-25) from Latin America (N=30) who were residing in central Virginia. In my semi-structured interviews with immigrant young adults, I explored their perceptions and experiences of immigration policies and rhetoric and how those experiences related to their ethnic-racial identity and engagement in acts of resistance to challenge exclusionary immigration-related policies and rhetoric. Results suggested that restrictive immigration policies and the threat of deportation produced stress and interrupted the endeavors of Latinx immigrant young adults in ways that have important negative implications for life course opportunities. Additionally, Latinx immigrant young adults described their ethnic-racial identities in complex and intersectional ways. Finally, findings suggest that anti-immigration policies and rhetoric functioned as an important context for Latinx immigrant young adults’ sociopolitical development. Taken together, the present study expands our understanding of the impacts of immigration policy and rhetoric across critical domains during the transition to adulthood for Latinx immigrant young adults.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Young adulthood, Immigration policy, Latinx young adults, Ethnic-racial identity, Sociopolitical development
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