Nearly 70 percent of undocumented Mexican immigrants report discrimination

A new study from Rice University found that 69 percent of undocumented Mexicans living in high-risk neighborhoods near the California-Mexico border reported interpersonal discrimination due to being undocumented.

The study, which was led by Luz Garcini, a postdoctoral research fellow in psychology at Rice, will appear in a forthcoming edition of the American Psychological Association journal Psychology of Violence. The article, titled "Kicks Hurt Less: Discrimination Predicts Distress Beyond Trauma Among Undocumented Mexican Immigrants," will present findings from clinical interviews with 246 undocumented Mexican immigrants.

Researchers found that interpersonal discrimination—which refers to direct perceived discrimination from interactions between individuals, such as verbal or non-verbal communication behaviors from an employer to an employee or store employee to a shopper—was associated with clinical levels of even more so than having a history of trauma.

Other findings:

  • Among with a history of discrimination, 52 percent met criteria for clinically significant psychological .
  • Undocumented Mexican men reported greater interpersonal discrimination for being undocumented when compared with women; however, women reported their experiences of interpersonal discrimination as more stressful.
  • Undocumented Mexican immigrants with lower education and income were significantly more likely to experience greater interpersonal discrimination for being undocumented when compared with those with higher education and income.
  • Undocumented Mexican immigrants who have experienced interpersonal discrimination and who have lived longer in the U.S. were more likely to experience psychological distress than more recently arrived immigrants, which suggests that over time, repeated experiences of discrimination may take a toll on the emotional well-being of these immigrants. The study also notes recent estimates that 78 percent of undocumented Mexican immigrants have lived in the U.S. for over a decade.
  • Undocumented Mexican immigrants who reported having experienced interpersonal discrimination were also likely to have a history of trauma.

"Our study also found that undocumented Mexican immigrants between the ages of 18 to 25 who had a history of interpersonal discrimination for being undocumented were more likely to meet criteria for clinically significant psychological distress compared with their undocumented counterparts ages 26 to 45," Garcini said.

Garcini noted that "the higher prevalence of interpersonal discrimination may be associated to the sociopolitical context of the area where our study was conducted, which has been documented as being extremely conservative with prevalent punitive action and policies against undocumented immigrants."

"The findings have important policy, public health and clinical implications," she said. "The high prevalence of interpersonal discrimination among undocumented Mexican immigrants due to their immigration legal status and its association to clinically significant psychological distress beyond trauma underscore the importance of immigration reform aimed to provide a path to legal residency and/or temporary migration programs that could protect these at-risk immigrants from the damaging effects of discrimination."

The study authors wrote that while "policy change is often a lengthy process, the prompt development of psychosocial interventions at different levels of influence, including the intrapersonal and the interpersonal level, is needed to build resilience in this population and protect against the negative effects of interpersonal discrimination. The use of strategies such as empowerment, care and support groups, assertiveness training and values-based interventions could be particularly effective in reducing the negative health effects of stigma and interpersonal ."

The researchers noted that experiences of psychological distress may differ in undocumented Mexican immigrants in other parts of the U.S. or in immigrants from other countries, and follow-up studies with populations of undocumented immigrants living in other regions of the U.S. are needed.


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Immigrants living in US near California-Mexico border have history of trauma

Journal information: Psychology of Violence

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Jun 15, 2018
People who try to live in a country illegally might get told to leave. Film at 11.

Jun 16, 2018
People who try to live in a country illegally might get told to leave. Film at 11.


Redefining people as undocumented instead of illegal changes many fundamental assumptions about rights, discrimination, and legality. It does not, however, change the fact that they are illegally here and do not have the rights and protections that legal immigrants can enjoy. They will always be discriminated against, legally since the law protects citizens, not illegals. The benefits of suffering through those discriminations and potential jail time must be worth it or millions wouldn't be risking it right now.

Jun 16, 2018
They will always be discriminated against, legally since the law protects citizens, not illegals.


The concept of citizenship of a country isn't very old, so never say never. Not many hundred years ago, people living in a country were not citizens until they bought the status from the powers that be, and the habit of counting everyone living in a certain area as citizens (or not) became to be due to the idea of taxing the people to fund the newly emerging national states. Before, people were just living there, with their own laws and customs as far they could and would.

It is not a given that the law protects only those counted as members of the state, but, as long as the assumption is that everyobody should be counted in order to pay tax to the state which then gets distributed (or not) back to the same people who "belong" to that state, undocumented individuals will always be harassed like non-unionized members of a working place to join the group or get out.

Jun 16, 2018
So, as a conclusion, the discrimination against "illegals", immigrants or otherwise, is a direct result of the fundamental idea of "socialism", improperly as I use the term here, where the state defines itself and derives its justification by arguing that its ruling elite exists and persists "for the people", which necessitates the definition of who is and who is not "the people".

So ironically, the strife for this sort of collective (or not) system of management creates the discrimination that the modern socialists, properly used and meant this time, and other social justice advocates find so objectionable. In creating this brotherhood of "us the people" they've equally created "them not the people" and made up the whole problem where some people are harassed by the individuals who fully accept and believe in this us/them dichotomy as a matter of course.


Jun 17, 2018
Among other things, a common political scam. If a political swindler can't prove that their agenda is good, they often switch to trying to "argue" that opposing it is "bad" in some way. The Democratic Racketeers know their policy of trying to flood the country with illegal aliens to take jobs from native born Americans and bust the unions is foul. As a result, they turn it around and try to claim that the act of pursuing legitimate laws and processes is "bad". They "argue" that what illegal aliens go through being forced to abide by the laws against illegal entry are harsh. The laws all criminals are forced to go through for criminality are harsh! That is part of the system of punishment! Even American criminals are treated that way! It should be mentioned, too, it is not certain there is any validity to documented Mexican immigrants mistreating illegal aliens.

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