Pobrecitos los Niños: The emotional impact of anti-immigration policies on Latino children

Sandy P. Rubio-Hernandez, Cecilia Ayón

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    54 Scopus citations


    The purpose of this study is to examine the perceptions of Latino immigrant parents on the emotional impact of anti-immigration policies on their children in the state of Arizona. Fifty four Latino immigrant parents participated in in-depth semi-structured interviews. Interviews were completed between September 2013 and February 2014, a critical time period following passage and initial stages of the implementation of SB1070 and other anti-immigration policies. Informed by grounded theory, a constant comparative approach was used between and within transcripts while completing initial and focused coding. Findings indicate parents observed a range of behavioral changes in their children following the passage of anti-immigration legislation. The emotional impact experienced by Latino children is summarized in the following themes; concern and sense of responsibility, fear and hypervigilance, sadness and crying, and depression. Parents reported their children expressed constant fear and concern over the looming threat of deportation or family separation. Children exhibited a sense of responsibility for improving their families' circumstances. Parents expressed their children displayed hypervigilance, constant sadness and crying. In some instances the changes in children's behavior were so severe that parents considered their children to be depressed and in need of clinical intervention. Practitioners in immigrant dense communities need to be aware of the challenges immigrant families encounter and the impact of immigration policies on the emotional development of Latino children.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)20-26
    Number of pages7
    JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


    • Anti-immigration legislation and sentiment
    • Emotional and behavioral changes
    • Immigrant families
    • Latino families and children

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education
    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Sociology and Political Science


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