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Adults in Immigrant Families Report Avoiding Routine Activities Because of Immigration Concerns

07.2019 / By Urban Institute

This brief uses the Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey to examine immigrant families’ reported avoidance of activities in various public settings. It finds:

  • About one in six adults in immigrant families reported that they or a family member avoided activities in which they could be asked or bothered about citizenship status during 2018. The activities avoided most were those that risk interaction with police or other public authorities, such as driving a car, renewing or applying for a driver’s license, and talking to the police or reporting crime.
  • About one in three adults in immigrant families with a more vulnerable visa and citizenship status—where one or more foreign-born relatives in the household do not have a green card (i.e., are not permanent residents) or US citizenship—reported that they or a family member avoided at least one routine activity. Meanwhile, over one in nine adults in families where all foreign-born family members have green cards or US citizenship reported this behavior.
  • Among adults in immigrant families, Hispanic adults were nearly three times more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to report avoiding some activities.
  • Controlling for observable characteristics, adults in immigrant families who avoided at least one activity were also more likely to report serious psychological distress.

This evidence suggests that many adults in immigrant families may be changing the way they live their daily lives in their communities.



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