Published Works

Abstract: Latino immigrant adolescents have the highest high school dropout rates of any race-ethnic or nativity group in the United States. One potential reason for high dropout rates among Latino immigrant youth is that many are unauthorized entrants. These unauthorized Latino immigrant youth have few opportunities to attend college, and, as they become aware of barriers to their educational progress and employment, they may lower their educational expectations. Using data from the Latino adolescent migration, health, and adaptation project (N = 275), we examine the association of unauthorized entry into the U.S. with the educational expectations of Latino immigrant youth. We find that adolescents entering the U.S. without authorization have lower educational expectations than those who enter with authorization. These differences in their expectations persist after controlling for differences in their pre-migration, migration, and post-migration experiences. Policies and programs that reduce barriers to higher education and labor market opportunities can potentially help to foster higher educational expectations among unauthorized immigrant youth and may promote their high school completion.

Abstract: Using data from a stratified random sample of 281 foreign‐born adolescents and their parents in the United States, this study provides data on migration‐related trauma exposures and examines how the migration process influences the risk of experiencing trauma and developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We find that 29 percent of foreign‐born adolescents and 34 percent of foreign‐born parents experienced trauma during the migration process. Among those that experienced trauma, 9 percent of adolescents and 21 percent of their parents were at risk for PTSD. Pre‐migration poverty combined with clandestine entry into the U.S. increased the risk of trauma and the subsequent development of PTSD symptoms. Post‐migration experiences of discrimination and neighborhood disorder further exacerbated this risk, while social support and familism mitigated it. Our results emphasize the importance of understanding how factors prior to, during, and after migration combine to influence the health of immigrants.

Abstract: Nearly one out of every four children in the US is a child of immigrants. Yet few studies have assessed how factors at various stages of migration contribute to the etiology of health problems in immigrant populations. Most focus only on post-migration factors influencing health. Using data from the Latino Adolescent Migration, Health, and Adaptation Project, this study assessed the extent to which pre-migration (e.g., major life events, high poverty), migration (e.g., unsafe and stressful migration experiences), post-migration (e.g., discrimination, neighborhood factors, family reunification, linguistic isolation), and social support factors contribute to depressive symptoms among a sample of Latino immigrant parents with children ages 12-18. Results from logit models indicate that high poverty levels prior to migration, stress during migration, and racial/ethnic discrimination upon settlement in the US most strongly contribute to the development of depressive symptoms among Latino immigrant parents. Family reunification, social support, and familism reduce the likelihood of depressive symptoms.

Abstract: Utilizing existing research and survey-based data from several studies, this article places the growth of the Mexican origin population in North Carolina in context and shows how it emerged out of historical, social, and economic connections between the U.S. and Mexico. During the 1990s, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the privatization of the Mexican ejido system promoted the migration of Mexicans to the U.S. Changes in the ease and cost of migration due to the enactment of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA86) helped to sustain this flow of immigrants and led them to settle more permanently in the U.S. during the 1990s. IRCA86’s effect on the supply of low-skilled workers in historical gateways states and the rise of anti-immigrant hostility in these states also helped to redirect Mexican migration flows to emerging gateway states. Finally, historical labor market connections between Mexico and the U.S. South, active recruitment of Mexican agricultural workers, and manufacturers’ courtships of Mexican laborers help to explain the settlement of immigrants in North Carolina during the 1990s and 2000s.

Abstract: We examined how the migration and acculturation experiences of first-generation Latino youth contributed to their psychological well-being. Data came from the LAMHA Latino Adolescent Migration, Health, and Adaptation) study, which surveyed 281 first-generation Latino immigrant youth, ages 12 to 19. Using logistic regression, we evaluated how migration stressors (i.e., traumatic events, choice of migration, discrimination, and documentation status) and migration supports (i.e. family and teacher support, acculturation, and personal-motivation) were associated with depressive symptoms and anxiety. We found that migration stressors increased the risk of both depressive symptoms and anxiety. Time in the United States and support from family and teachers reduced the risk of depressive symptoms and anxiety. Compared with documented adolescents, undocumented adolescents were at greater risk of anxiety, and children in mixed-status families were at greater risk.

Abstract: Few studies have examined the migration and acculturation experiences of Latino youth in a newly emerging Latino community, communities that historically have had low numbers of Latino residents. This study uses in-depth interview data from the Latino Adolescent, Migration, Health, and Adaptation (LAMHA) project, a mixed-methods study, to document the experiences of Latino youth (aged 14-18) growing up in one emerging Latino community in the southeastern region of North Carolina. Using adolescent’s own words and descriptions, this study shows how migration can turn an adolescent’s world upside down, and it uncovers the adaptive strategies that Latino immigrant youth use to turn their world right-side-up as they adapt to life in the United States.

Abstract: One in five children living in the U.S is an immigrant or child of an immigrant. Through qualitative methods, this study identifies ways that Latino immigrant parents with adolescent children cope with their new environment and how that environment shapes their parenting practices.  Two primary themes emerge — overcoming new challenges and finding new strengths.  Immigrant parents discussed the challenges of overcoming their fears of the unknown; navigating unfamiliar work, school, and neighborhood environments; encountering and confronting racism; and losing family connections and other forms of social capital.  In response to these challenges, immigrant parents discussed developing bicultural coping skills, increasing parent-child communication, empathizing with and respecting their adolescent children, and fostering social supports.  The results fit well with a risk and protective factor framework and provide a basis for improving policies and programs to support effective parenting in Latino immigrant families.

  • Chapman, M. and K. Perreira. (2005). The Well-Being of Immigrant Youth: A Model to Inform Practice. Families in Society, 86(1), 104-111.

Abstract: All families must confront positive and negative influences when raising children. This challenge is greater for new immigrants who must negotiate the additional influences of culture, environment, and the incorporation of their family history into their life in a new country. This article summarizes findings regarding the well-being of Latino youth on domains important to functioning later in life, such as: mental health, substance use, school functioning, and early adult role-taking.  The summary is followed by a discussion of the psychosocial risks that threaten the successful adaptation of Latino youth in immigrant families and the protective factors that facilitate their adaptation. Last, a framework of practice guidelines and case applications is proposed to guide helping professionals in assessing the needs of Latino youth.

Conference Posters

LAMHA Summit Presentations