The Impact of Anti-Immigrant Sentiment on Community Stability & Wellbeing

The Impact of Anti-Immigrant Sentiment on Community Stability & Wellbeing

Recent policies regarding immigration in the U.S. have created an environment that threatens the safety and wellbeing of legal and undocumented immigrants. On a national stage, these policies stand to drastically restrict immigration and asylum-seeking.

Here, we take a deep dive into how discrimination and confusing policies are affecting immigrant communities.

  • Rising Anxiety & Stress: According to University of Washington News, immigrants, particularly those of color, have experienced an increase in public perception in which they are cast as “criminals, drunkards, lazy, [and] unkempt.” As a result, 58 percent of Hispanic adults have been the target of unfair treatment or discrimination stemming from politicized language, with immigrants feeling “enhanced psychological distress, depression and heightened anxiety” (Elizabeth Vaquera via Washington Post).
  • Negative Health Outcomes & Long-term Harm: Studies have found a link between negative health outcomes and increased anxiety and depression. Among undocumented immigrants, public perception and changing policies have created a “chilling effect,” or a “reduction, due to fear…in the number of undocumented immigrants willing to interact with staff at public agencies” for health services (American Medical Association Journal of Ethics). This finding means that many immigrants in the U.S. are avoiding seeking medical care because they are afraid of calling attention to themselves.

Furthermore, at the U.S.-Mexico border where the federal “zero tolerance” policy has separated many families seeking asylum, parents have observed dramatic changes in their children’s behavior and health, with many noticing that their sons and daughters “are now angry, withdrawn and unable to sleep.” Many experts have asserted that children that underwent separation may experience trauma for years to come (The New Yorker).

  • Ongoing Uncertainty: The frequency with which new immigration policies are announced or altered can be difficult to understand. For example, in August 2019, changes to the “public charge rule” made it so that people applying to legally enter or stay in the U.S. could be rejected “if they are judged likely to be a burden on the taxpayers at anytime in the future,” or if they may need public welfare services (The Boston Globe). Such policy changes have sewn uncertainty and unpredictability into the daily lives of U.S. citizens, immigrants seeking permanent residency and undocumented immigrants alike.

These growing anti-immigrant sentiments are tangibly hurting immigrant communities of color. By continuing to offer supportive services for our community and celebrate cultural and ethnic diversity through arts programming, we remain committed to building communities that are welcome and empowering to all.

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