Childhood, Adulthood, and Cumulative Traumatic Experiences as a Predictor of Deportation Fears



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Background The current political climate has increased deportation fears and these fears may be magnified by prior or current traumatic experiences. While research has focused on the causality of Latino children’s traumatic experiences as a consequence of deportation, it has not examined prior traumatic experiences in relation to heightened deportation fears among adults. We examined measures of childhood, adulthood, and cumulative trauma in relation to deportation fears among low-income Latino immigrants. Methods This was a cross-sectional pilot study designed to examine the impact of individual and cumulative stressors on the health measures listed above. Data collection occurred August 2018 – April 2019 in Houston-area community centers. Participants were surveyed using trauma and deportation fear subscales and demographic and socio-economic measures. A series of descriptive and linear regression models were conducted to evaluate various forms of trauma as predictors deportation fears. Results The majority of participants experienced at least one incident of physical and emotional trauma during childhood and almost three incidents of general trauma in adulthood. Deportation fears averaged to 2.86 (SD = 1.57) out of a 5-point scale. Physical and emotional trauma during childhood each predicted increased deportation fears, as did general trauma in adulthood. In addition, the cumulative trauma score was positively associated with deportation fears. Conclusion The unaddressed chronic stress associated trauma places individuals at risk for severe mental health disorders. Addressing Latino immigrants’ health needs through trauma-informed care is important as prior research suggest that negative health consequences are transmitted to succeeding generations. This project was completed with contributions from Hua Zhao from University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.