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.
Jose: THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. A NEW REPORT IN THE JOURNAL OF ETHNIC AND MIGRATION STUDIES INVESTIGATES THE IMPACT OF DEPORTATION ON LATINO HEALTH. JOINING ME TO TALK ABOUT THIS IS EDWARD VARGAS, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR FOR THE ASU SCHOOL OF TRANSPORTER STUDIES. PROFESSOR VARGAS WELCOME TO "HORIZONTE." GIVE US KIND OF AN OVERVIEW OF THE TOPIC THAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT HERE AND WHY YOU CHOSE TO STUDY IT.
Vargas: WELL, THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME. IT IS A REAL HONOR TO BE HERE ON THE SHOW AND TO TALK TO YOU ALL ABOUT SOME RESEARCH THAT I CONDUCTED IN THE AREA OF PUBLIC HEALTH. SO IN THE AREA OF PUBLIC HEALTH THERE IS THIS IDEA CALLED SOCIAL DETERMINATION OF HEALTH. THIS IDEA THAT WHERE YOU LIVE HAS IMPLICATIONS FOR YOUR HEALTH. SO POLICIES LOCAL POLICIES HAVE IMPLICATIONS FOR YOUR HEALTH. AND SO THIS WORK BUILDS ON A LEGACY OF WORK THAT SHOWS THAT IF YOU ARE PERSONALLY LIVING IN A COMMUNITY THAT IS ANTI-IMMIGRANT IT HAS IMPLICATIONS FOR YOUR HEALTH. SO OUR PARTICULAR
Jose: SO THERE ARE PRIOR STUDIES INDICATING THAT DOES HAVE A HEALTH EFFECT?
Vargas: YES, MY OWN STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT IF FOR EXAMPLE IF YOU ASK LATINOS DO YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU LIVE IN A PLACE THAT IS UNFAVORABLE TO IMMIGRANTS AND WHAT WE FIND IS THAT LATINOS WHO BELIEVE THEY LIVE IN A STATE THAT IS UNFAVORABLE TOWARDS THEM WERE MORE LIKELY TO REPORT POOR HEALTH. MOREOVER, IS IT ANTI-IMMIGRANT OR ANTI-HISPANIC, OR BOTH, AND WHAT WE FIND IS THAT IT IS REALLY THE ANTI-HISPANIC AND ANTI-IMMIGRANT THAT HAVE THESE COMBINED THAT HAVE SERIOUS IMPLICATIONS FOR BOTH MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH OF LATINOS.
Jose: SO ARE THERE IMMIGRANT GROUPS THAT WOULDN’T NECESSARILY SHOW THE SAME IMPACT?
Vargas: WELL, YOU KNOW, NOT A LOT OF RESEARCH HAS REALLY BEEN LOOKED AT OTHER GROUPS. PARTICULARLY BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, ANTI-IMMIGRANTS FOR THE MOST PART IS VERY SYNONYMOUS WITH ANTI-LATINO, ANTI-MEXICAN. IT IS STILL OUT TO BE DETERMINED WHETHER OR NOT IT HAS IMPLICATIONS FOR LET'S SAY ASIAN LATINOS FOR EXAMPLE.
Jose: TELL US ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR STUDY AND THE RESULTS YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES CAME UP WITH.
Vargas: SO WHAT WE DID IS WE GOT A GRANT THAT WAS FUNDED BY THE ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON FOUNDATION CENTER FOR HEALTH POLICY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO. AND WE ASKED LATINOS DO PERSONALLY KNOW SOMEBODY WHO HAS BEEN DEPORTED AND WHAT WE FOUND IS THAT IF YOU PERSONALLY KNOW SOMEBODY THAT HAS BEEN DEPORTED IT AGAIN IT INCREASES YOUR ODDS OF REPORTING POOR HEALTH. INTERESTINGLY, THE MORE LATINOS THAT YOU KNOW, ALSO HAS OF COURSE INCREASES YOUR ODDS OF REPORTING POOR MENTAL HEALTH.
Jose: THE MORE LATINOS THAT YOU KNOW WHO HAVE BEEN DEPORTED?
Vargas: THE MORE INDIVIDUALS YOU KNOW WHO HAVE BEEN DEPORTED, YES. AND SO WHAT WE FIND IS IF YOU KNOW THREE OR MORE LATINOS FOR EXAMPLE, YOU HAVE A 55% ODDS OF SAYING THAT IN THE LAST YEAR YOU NEEDED HELP FOR MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES.
Jose: AND IS IT LIMITED AS YOU WOULD EXPECT FOR SURE TO FAMILY MEMBERS. SO IF MY FATHER HAS BEEN DEPORTED WHICH HE ACTUALLY WAS AT ONE POINT. EXPECTATION WOULD BE THAT OF COURSE THAT IS GOING TO HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE CHILDREN AND THE WIFE, BUT IF IT IS SOMEBODY A FRIEND OR I JUST KNOW THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE BEING DEPORTED FROM MY SCHOOL OR FROM MY PLACE OF WORK IS IT THE SAME IMPACT?
Vargas: GREAT QUESTION. GREAT QUESTION. AND SO WE WHERE ABLE TO ACTUALLY DO THIS COMPARISONS IN OUR STUDIES. AND SO WE ASK BOTH IF THE PERSON REMOVED WAS A FAMILY MEMBER? WAS IT A FRIEND? WAS IT A CO-WORKER? MOREOVER WAS THIS THE MAIN BREADWINNER IN THE HOUSE? WAS IT, SO WE ALSO ASK ABOUT THE RACIAL AND ETHNIC COMPOSITION OF THE PERSON THAT WAS REMOVED TO GET A MORE CONTEXTUAL IDEA OF THAT RELATIONSHIP. RIGHT, AND SO WHAT WE FIND IS THAT IT MATTERS. IT PARTICULARLY MATTERS IF IT IS A RELATIVE OR FAMILY MEMBER. INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, IT MATTERS MORE FOR CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH. SO, FOR EXAMPLE SOME RESEARCH CURRENT RESEARCH THAT I AM CONDUCTING WITH A COLLEAGUE HERE AT ASU, DOCTOR VIRIDIANA BENITEZ WHO IS A DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGIST, WE FIND THAT IF YOU PERSONALLY KNOW SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN DEPORTED THE LIKELIHOOD THAT YOUR KID HAS BEEN REFERRED AND DIAGNOSED WITH LEARNING DISORDERS IS HIGHER. AND SO THIS AGAIN HAS SHOWN THE SPILLOVER EFFECTS OF THIS LET’S SAY FOR EXAMPLE ANTI-IMMIGRANT CLIMATE ON HEALTH. SOMETHING THAT I REALLY WANT TO POINT OUT THAT IS IMPORTANT IS IT JUST DOESN'T AFFECT IMMIGRANTS. RIGHT, THAT IT IMPACTS U.S. CITIZEN LATINOS SO THIS SPILLOVER EFFECT IS THAT’S WHAT’S NEW ABOUT THIS STUDY. IS THAT IT ISN'T JUST FOCUSED ON IMMIGRANTS BUT ALSO U.S. CITIZENS WHO MAY BE FIRST, SECOND OR THIRD GENERATION.
Jose: WELL, I WAS GOING TO ASK YOU HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHO YOU WHERE GOING TO GO OUT AND SURVEY? GIVE US SOME SENSE OF THE METHODOLOGY.
Vargas: YEAH, GREAT, SO WHAT WE DID IS WE WENT OUT AND WE SURVEYED JUST UNDER 1500 LATINOS NATIONWIDE DONE BOTH ON THE PHONE, CELLPHONE, LANDLINE, AND INTERNET. AND WHAT WE’RE FINDING IS
Jose: DID YOU CONCENTRATE THOUGH ON CERTAIN PARTS OF THE COUNTRY? BORDER STATES FOR EXAMPLE?
Vargas: THIS WAS A NATIONAL STUDY TO BE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE LIKELIHOOD THAT A LATINO COULD BE IN OUR SURVEY IS NATIONAL IN SCOPE AND THAT IS WHAT I THINK IS ALSO IMPORTANT ABOUT THE WORK IS THAT IT IS NATIONAL IN SCOPE, QUANTITATIVE STUDY OF LATINOS. WE FIND A LOT OF EVIDENCE IN THE MORE LOCALIZED REALM, BUT OUR FOCUS WAS REALLY TO TRY TO GET A NATIONAL PICTURE. A NATIONAL VIEW OF WHAT ANTI-IMMIGRANT CLIMATES MAY LOOK LIKE ACROS THE COUNTRY.
Jose: BASED UPON WHAT YOU JUST SAID AND WHAT YOU SAID EARLIER ABOUT ANTI-IMMIGRANT AND ANTI-MEXICAN IN PARTICULAR. WOULD IT BE THE CASE THAT 3RD AND 4TH GENERATION, WHOM YOU REFERENCED MEXICANS, WOULD FEEL PERHAPS HAVE A GREATER NEED FOR MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES BECAUSE THEY FEEL AS A GROUP MEXICANS ARE UNDER ATTACK?
Vargas: YEAH, GREAT QUESTION. SO, NOT IN THIS STUDY, BUT IN A PRIOR PUBLISHED PAPER THAT WE’VE CONDUCTED WITH SOME OF MY CO-AUTHORS, WE FIND – ACTUALLY WE LOOK AT THE NUMBER OF ANTI-IMMIGRANT LAWS. AND WHAT WE FIND IS THAT IF YOU LIVE IN A STATE THAT HAS EXTREME, SORT OF HIGH LEVELS OF ANTI-IMMIGRANT LAWS YOU ARE MORE LIKELY TO REPORT POOR HEALTH ACROSS GENERATIONS. SO WE LOOK AT NOT JUST ABOUT YOUR PERCEPTIONS ABOUT WHERE YOU LIVE. RIGHT, IN OTHER WORDS YOU THINK YOU LIVE IN A WELCOMING CITY OR STATE. WE ALSO LOOK AT ACTUAL LAWS THAT ARE ON THE BOOKS. AND NOW THIS, WHAT I’M HERE TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT, THIS NEW RESEARCH IS ABOUT ACTUALLY KNOWING SOMEBODY -- YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH PEOPLE. THIS IDEA OF PERSONALLY KNOWING SOMEBODY THAT HAS BEEN DEPORTED WE CAN THINK OF EXAMPLES IN OTHER COMMUNITIES WHERE WE CAN FIND SIMILAR RESULTS. FOR EXAMPLE, IF YOU PERSONALLY KNOW SOMEBODY WHO WAS INCARCERATED WE KNOW THAT HAS IMPLICATIONS FOR FAMILIES. IN SOME WAYS WE ARE BUILDING A PARALLEL RESEARCH THAT REALLY FOR THE PART MIRRORS A LOT OF WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT INCARCERATION AND HEALTH.
Jose: JUST A COUPLE OF MORE QUICK QUESTIONS. DID YOU FIND, YOU BREAK IT DOWN BY STATES. FOR EXAMPLE, ARIZONA IS CONSIDERED GROUND ZERO FOR THE IMMIGRATION STATE. DID YOU FIND A HIGHER INCIDENT OF PEOPLE NEEDING MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES BECAUSE WE LIVE IN ARIZONA AND WE ARE MORE SUBJECT TO THOSE ISSUES?
Vargas: GREAT QUESTION, GREAT QUESTION. WHAT WE DID WITH OUR ANALYTICAL TECHNIQUE IS WE TRIED TO COMPARE STATES AND TRY TO BASICALLY MODEL AND CONTROL FOR THOSE THINGS OUT. SO, IN OTHER WORDS WE REALLY WERE TRYING TO GET AT THE NATIONAL SCOPE. OUR STUDY WASN'T PARTICULAR FOCUSED ON ARIZONA BUT WE KNOW GIVEN THE HISTORY OF ARIZONA, AND THE IMMIGRANT RIGHTS STORY, THAT IT WOULD HAVE A HIGHER IMPLICATIONS FOR PLACES LIKE ARIZONA. AND THEN ALSO NEW DESTINATION IMMIGRANT STATES LIKE TENNESSEE, LIKE NORTH CAROLINA, LIKE SOUTH CAROLINA. WHICH ARE SEEING AN INCREASE OF COPY CAT TYPE LAWS THAT WERE PASSED HERE SUCH AS SP-TEN-SEVEN.
Jose: AND NOW MOST RECENTLY TEXAS SO WE’LL SEE WHAT COMES OUT OF THAT. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING TIME TO TALK WITH US. FASCINATION RESEARCH.
Vargas: THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.
Jose: COMING UP NEXT, FIND OUT ABOUT A MOBILE EXHIBITION THAT FOCUSES ON ANNE FRANK’S LIFE.
Edward D. Vargas: Asst. Professor, ASU School of Transborder Studies