The intersection of immigration policy impacts and COVID-19 for Latinx young adults

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John Wiley & Sons, Inc. / Society for Community Research and Action


For many Latinx young adults, COVID-19 has exposed exclusionary policies that heighten risk for contracting the virus and that leave them and their parents unprotected. This study has a dual purpose; first, to quantitatively examine immigration policy impacts of discrimination, isolation, threats to family, and vulnerability, and their association to economic consequences experienced by Latinx young adults in Central Texas during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Second, to qualitatively explore how policy impacts affected Latinx young adults during the pandemic, and the coping mechanisms they utilized to minimize these impacts. Quantitative results show that on average, Latinx young adults (N = 83) reported low discrimination and isolation but moderate threats to family and vulnerability, with rates of isolation and vulnerability higher for foreign-born than U.S.-born Latinx young adults. Perceived discrimination due to one's own or family immigration status was associated with economic hardship. Qualitative findings show that Latinx young adults (n = 21) experienced (a) precarious conditions that pose a threat of COVID-19 infection for Latinxs, (b) parental job loss due to vulnerable employment leads to deprivation, and (c) policies that disproportionally discriminate against the Latinx community and exclude them from vital services. Despite these challenges, participants also drew on resilience and expressed hope for the future. The article concludes with implications for policymakers and practitioners to provide protections and services to Latinx young adults and their family members.