New study: Knowing someone who has been deported can affect your health

A new report in the Journal of Ethnic Immigration Studies explores whether knowing someone who has been deported affects one’s health.

The study focuses on what is known in the public health field as “social determinants of health.” It’s the idea that where you live and the environment in which you live affects your mental and physical health.

Associate Professor at ASU’s School of Transborder Studies Edward D. Vargas says the study found that Latinos who believe they live in a state that is unfavorable toward them are more likely to report poor health. When their living environment is both anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic, Vargas says there were signs of increased poor mental and physical health of Latinos.

“We asked Latinos if they personally know someone who has been deported,” Vargas says. “What we found was that if you personally know someone who has been deported, it increases your odds of reporting poor mental health. Interestingly, the more Latinos you know increases your odds of reporting poor mental health. What we find is if you know three or more Latinos, you have 55 percent odds of saying that in the last year you needed to seek mental health services.”

The relationship between the person surveyed and the person who was deported was also evaluated. Vargas says that when a family member was deported, the effects were greater. Children were found to be most affected.

As a national study, it didn’t focus on one specific area, nor was it limited to Latinos. People were questioned via internet, phone calls and in person. Vargas says the goal was to get a “national picture of what anti-immigration climates may look like across the country.”

A prior study conducted by Vargas focused on the number of anti-immigration laws in a state and the health of people who lived there. He found that the more laws a state had on the matter, the more likely a person was to report poor health across generations. The newer study focuses on a more personal approach, he says.

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Edward D. Vargas: Asst. Professor, ASU School of Transborder Studies

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