Climate of Fear: Provider Perceptions of Latinx Immigrant Service Utilization

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By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Latinx immigrants endure stressors throughout the immigration process that detrimentally impact their health and wellbeing. Yet, they also face substantial barriers to accessing and utilizing services. These barriers might be heightened under the Trump administration, which has implemented policies facilitating increased immigration enforcement and punitive immigration practices. This study utilizes data collected from providers who serve Latinx immigrants in the border state of Texas to better understand current immigrant service utilization behaviors. Individual interviews and focus groups were conducted shortly after the last presidential election to inquire about recruitment, retention, program completion, and resources to address key client risk factors. Applying grounded theory analysis strategies, interviews, and focus group recordings were coded for key themes. Data demonstrated central concerns held by providers serving immigrants, and especially those who are undocumented or in mixed-status families. Concerns were related to the following three themes: (1) undocumented immigrant stressors, (2) limited resources for undocumented immigrants, and (3) service utilization barriers. Lack of services for undocumented immigrants and fear related to service utilization were prominent subthemes. These findings extend our knowledge of stressors and barriers of access and utilization for immigrants during this time period of increased immigration enforcement which have valuable implications for practice and future research. Providers can take concrete actions to educate immigrants, regardless of documentation status, on how their clients’ identities will be protected. In addition, intentional trust-building strategies are essential to help overcome fear of utilizing services. Future research should ascertain perspectives of immigrant families, as this study drew perspectives only from providers.

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