A study by researchers at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health finds the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border region exacerbates the process of “Othering” Latino immigrants – as “illegal aliens.” The internalization of “illegality” can manifest as a sense of “undeservingness” of legal protection in the population and be detrimental on a biopsychological level. The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health.
The researchers explored the impacts of “illegality” among a population of US citizen and permanent resident farm workers of Mexican descent. The team looked at immigration enforcement-related stress and the ability to file formal complaints of discrimination and mistreatment perpetrated by local immigration enforcement agents, including local police authorized to enforce immigration law.
Drawing from cross-sectional data gathered through the National Institute of Occupation Safety and Health, “Challenges to Farmworker Health at the US-Mexico Border” study, a community-based participatory research project conducted at the Arizona-Sonora border, the researchers compared Arizona resident farmworkers (N = 349) to Mexico-based farmworkers (N = 140) or Transnational farmworkers who cross the US-Mexico border daily or weekly to work in U.S. agriculture.
Both samples of farm workers experience significant levels of stress in anticipation of encounters with immigration officials. Fear was cited as the greatest factor preventing individuals from reporting immigration abuses. The groups varied slightly in the relative weight attributed to different types of fear.
The militarization of the border has consequences for individuals who are not the target of immigration enforcement. These spillover effects cause harm to farmworkers in multiple ways. Multi-institutional and community-centered systems for reporting immigration-related victimization is required. Applied participatory research with affected communities can mitigate the public health effects of state-sponsored immigration discrimination and violence among U.S. citizen and permanent residents.
Link to study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26125018
Study: The Spillover of US Immigration Policy on Citizens and Permanent Residents of Mexican Descent: How Internalizing “Illegality” Impacts Public Health in the Borderlands.
Frontiers in Public Health