Latinx High Schoolers Suffer From Depression and PTSD Because of Deportation Fears
Latinx students in a Texas county with high rates of ICE arrests have developed symptoms of anxiety and depression.
In a new study done by the Migration Policy Institute, researchers found that Latinx high-school students in Texas and Rhode Island suffer from symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD as a result of their fear of deportation. "This study documents widespread fear of immigration enforcement and high levels of anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms across a sample of Latino high school students — levels that were high for youth born in the United States as well as those born outside the country," the authors said about the findings, done with research from the University of Houston and Rhode Island College.
Researchers surveyed students in five high schools in Harris County, Texas, where many Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests were made in 2018 as compared to any other county in the country. They also surveyed students in six high schools in Rhode Island, where ICE activity is low. The surveys were done during the 2018-19 school year.
According to the report, 59 percent of all the students surveyed feared that someone close to them would be arrested and deported, while 56 percent knew someone who had been deported. Among the Texas students, 67 percent of those surveyed feared that someone close to them would be deported, while 52 percent of the Rhode Island students felt the same. One-third of all students were worried about being deported themselves, including 12 percent students born in the United States; those students reported that they'd stopped doing things like driving and attending religious services.
The study also found that two-thirds of participants met the clinical threshold for anxiety, 58 percent for post-traumatic stress disorder, and 55 percent for depression. Some of the schools that participated in the study are now trying to address their students' fears and provide them with help; their solutions are shown in the study.
The researchers noted that adolescence is a critical period for young people, as it's when they develop their social, cultural, and political identities — any mental health struggles they face now could continue to affect them down the line. "Latinos are about one-quarter of U.S. high school students and they are expected to account for almost all U.S. labor force growth in coming decades," the report states. "Their mental health and school engagement will influence their future productivity and the future strength of the U.S. economy, as studies have shown young adults with severe mental-health conditions experience difficulties in the labor market later in life."