Parent unauthorized immigration status (PUIS), which refers to a foreign-born non-citizen person's lack of legal authorization to reside in the US has been neglected in studies of substance use among Latino youth, despite the fact that about a quarter of Latino youth live with an unauthorized immigrant parent. Emerging evidence suggests that the parent unauthorized immigration status (PUIS) places formidable hardships on families and leads to adverse developmental outcomes in children [22-24]. However, the effects of PUIS on family and parenting processes and their implications for substance use by Latino youth have been neglected. For instance, a search of the literature yields no published studies examining the relationship between immigration status (i.e., authorized or unauthorized) and adolescent substance use. The overall goal of this dissertation project is to understand the effects of PUIS on adolescent risk for substance use. Unauthorized immigration status refers to a foreign-born non-citizen person's lack of legal authorization to reside in the US . Adolescent risk for substance use refers to pro-drug norms, self-efficacy to refuse drug offers, and intentions to use drugs. The drugs or substances of interest in this project are alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. The goal of this project will be accomplished by a mixed-method design including qualitative and quantitative components. The project aims to 1) Identify discrete stressors confronted by families where a parent has unauthorized immigration status, the meaning families ascribe to those stressors and the strategies families use to cope with the stressors. 2) Delineate variations in exposure to immigrant stressors, family coping, parent and youth distress, and parenting practices by parent immigration status (i.e., unauthorized versus authorized). 3) Delineate the prevalence of risk for substance use in adolescents according to parent immigration status (i.e. authorized versus unauthorized), and exploring if stressor exposure and family coping are associated with differences in adolescents risk for substance use.
Study aims will be accomplished using a sequential mixed-methods design. In the qualitative phase, 20 parents who are unauthorized immigrants from Mexico or the spouses/partners of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico will be interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide. In the quantitative phase, 200 adolescents enrolled in 7th and 8th grade and one of their parents will complete questionnaires. Adolescents will be asked about stressors (i.e., PUIS related stressors, and general immigrant stressors) their stress response (i.e., distress), strategies their families use to cope with PUIS stressors, parenting practices, their drug refusal confidence, pro-drug norms, and intentions to use drugs (i.e., alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana). Parents will be asked about stressors (i.e., PUIS related stressors, and general immigrant stressors), stress response (i.e., distress), and strategies their families use to cope with the stressors.
Rising substance use among a rapidly growing population of children of Latino immigrants will increase the burden on the nation's social systems and institutions in the decades ahead. It is imperative to determine the ecological conditions that place Latino children at risk for substance use. Due to the significant number of children of unauthorized immigrant parents, the study of the effects of parent unauthorized immigration status on family processes and youth development will inform prevention efforts, clinical practice, and policies affecting immigrant families.