Immigration-Related Arrest, Parental Documentation Status, and Depressive Symptoms Among Early Adolescent Latinos

Zachary Giano, Machele Anderson, Karina Shreffler, Ronald B. Cox, Michael J. Merten, Kami L. Gallus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: Experiencing an immigration-related arrest of a family member adversely impacts youth well-being, yet the role of parental documentation status for exacerbating adverse mental health outcomes following these arrests has not been investigated. Method: Using a general population sample of Latino 7th-grade students in an urban public school district in the south-central United States (N = 611), we examined the relationship between an immigration-related arrest of a family member and depressive symptoms as well as the moderating associations of perceived parental documentation status. Results: Using ordinary least squares regression, findings indicate that experiencing or witnessing an immigration-related arrest of a family member is significantly associated with higher rates of depressive symptoms. Moreover, parental citizenship status has a moderating effect; depressive symptoms are magnified among youth who report that both of their parents have undocumented legal status. Conclusions: The study findings suggest that there are significant consequences for youth well-being when a family member is arrested for immigration-related violations. Further, among youth whose parents are both undocumented, there appears to be a compounding effect on mental health. Immigration policies, programs, and schools need to consider the emotional needs of youth who have undocumented parents, particularly in the context of elevated immigration enforcement.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2019



  • Adolescence
  • Depression
  • Immigration
  • Latino
  • Undocumented

Cite this