Rising fears and anxiety among immigrants in the U.S. has negatively impacted daily lives and routines, including the health of children, according to a new study by The Kaiser Family Foundation released Dec. 13.
Both documented and undocumented immigrants report an increase in fear of deportation and being separated from their families since the 2016 presidential election. Documented immigrants also report fear their legal status could suddenly be revoked.
According to the study, "Living in an Immigrant Family in America: How Fear and Toxic Stress are Affecting Daily Life, Well-Being, & Health," these fears translate into unease and anxiety about leaving the home, limiting some immigrants' external activities outside the home to necessary activities like going to work.
"We wake up every day with the fear of being deported, of the separation of our families, to have to leave the kids," one Latino parent in Boston said.
The study found a significant increase in reports of racism and discrimination, particularly — observed by parents and pediatricians — in the bullying of immigrant children. Immigrant parents and pediatricians also report negative effects in the health and well-being of these children, manifesting as issues with sleeping and eating, physical ailments like headaches and stomachaches, and symptoms of depression and anxiety.
According to the report:
The climate surrounding these policies and this debate potentially affect 23 million noncitizens in the U.S., including both lawfully present and undocumented immigrants, many of whom came to the U.S. seeking safety and improved opportunities for their families. They also have implications for the over 12 million children who live with a noncitizen parent, who are predominantly U.S-born citizen children.
The study “highlights how policies can have effects far beyond, perhaps, the individuals that are targeted by those policies,” Samantha Artiga, director of Kaiser’s Disparities Policy Project and co-author of the study, said. “We really hear how those feelings of fear and uncertainty have impacts on their health.”
Read the full study here.