Document Type



Master of Arts



First Adviser

Sirry Alang


Currently, the topic of illegal immigration is popular, but often the conversation centers around negative opinions of undocumented immigrants and the economic consequences of their presence in the United States. Yet, what is rarely discussed is how US citizens are affected by having parents who are undocumented. About 9 million people in the United States are members of mixed-status families, where some family members are US citizens while some are not. This study explores the effects of parents’ immigration status on their children’s physical and mental wellbeing. It is based on eighteen phone interviews with adult children (18+) of undocumented immigrants. Participants were recruited through an organization that had a strong relationship with their community and through personal networks. Data was analyzed through deductive coding techniques. Results show that interviewees’ well-being and life plans are both strongly affected by their parents’ immigration status. Many experienced anxiety, depression, and fear related to the uncertainty inherent in their family situations and the negative political climate. Many had limited access to medical services and were not treating their mental health issues. Many modified their college and career plans as a result of concerns about their parents. Yet there is also evidence of resilience and personal strength that is attributed to their experiences. There is a need for counseling and support for individuals and more research on the how having undocumented parents is a major chronic stressor.

Available for download on Saturday, February 26, 2022

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