Latinx Children| Volume 22, ISSUE 5, P729-735, July 2022

The Intergenerational Health Effects of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program on Families With Mixed Immigration Status



      Children of undocumented mothers with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) have better mental health outcomes than children of DACA-ineligible mothers. This study explored the intergenerational health effects of DACA on undocumented parents and their children in families with mixed immigration status.


      Forty-eight semistructured interviews were selected from a study on life transitions of 50 undocumented immigrants. Prevalent themes related to the intergenerational health effects of DACA on undocumented immigrants were identified through thematic analysis of the transcripts, and quotes were selected to illustrate themes in the participants’ own words.


      Thirty-three of the 48 respondents were DACA recipients. Twenty-six respondents were parents with a total of 61 children, 73.8% of whom were US-born. Four themes were identified: 1) DACA recipients reported decreased familial stress because of protection from deportation and increased access to health care, 2) both DACA and DACA-ineligible parents prioritized regular pediatrician visits for their children, but DACA-ineligible parents suffered from poor health because of decreased access to health care, 3) adults with DACA mirror the health behaviors of their DACA-ineligible parents, and 4) the poor health access of DACA-ineligible family members appeared to stress DACA recipients and US-born children in these families.


      DACA decreases children's fear of parental deportation and loss. However, the suffering of DACA-ineligible parents and family members may stress their children and influence their health-seeking behavior in adulthood. Health care access for all members of immigrant families needs to be examined, since their well-being impacts the well-being of their children.


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