Healthy Mind, Healthy Future

The Effect of Hostile Immigration Policies on Children’s Mental Health

Children of immigrants are the fastest-growing child population in the United States. They will be an increasingly important part of our workforce, and will help subsidize Medicare and contribute to state and local economies.  As California remains a change agent for our nation and immigrant communities, The Children’s Partnership and the California Immigrant Policy Center are combining efforts to examine the impact of immigration policies and actions on the mental health of children in immigrant families in California and identify what more can be done at the local, state, and national level to support the healthy development of these children.

The release of the brief The Effect of Hostile Immigration Policies on Children’s Mental Health is the first in a series of initiatives to better understand what more we can do as a community to support the health and wellbeing of children in immigrant families. In the coming weeks, we will assess the impact of harmful federal policy changes on children in immigrant families in California. With commitment and leadership focused on sensible policy solutions, we can ensure that children in immigrant families remain healthy, feel secure, and continue to thrive.

California Children in Immigrant Families: The Health Provider Perspective

1 in 2 Children HAVE AN IMMIGRANT PARENT. California is at the forefront of passing immigrant integration policies. Yet in surveying health care providers in the state, it is evident that current national anti-immigrant rhetoric is impacting the health of children in immigrant families.

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The Children’s Partnership commissioned a 27 question survey on immigrant children’s and families’ access to care and overall health. It was distributed to health care providers across California; 151 individuals who provide and coordinate health care services completed the survey. Survey respondents represented counties across the state with most being from Southern (n= 70, 50.4%) and Northern California (n=58, 38.4%). The survey asked respondents about a variety of topics related to changes in health care access as well as immigrant family health and wellbeing since the November 2016 General Election, and it also asked them to identify resources needed to effectively provide care to immigrant families.  The percentages reflected in the one pager represent surveyed providers agreement with each statement.*

Data reflected in the one pager was rounded to nearest percentile. More details can be found here: 

  • Nearly 90% of providers stated that children in immigrant families experienced increased anxiety and fear due to detention and deportation (n=121, 87%)
  • Over 70% reported an increase in children experiencing symptoms of depression (such as feelings of sadness, sleeping problems, loss or gain of appetite, loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy) (n=97, 72.4%)
  • 42% reported children in immigrant families were increasingly skipping scheduled health care appointments (n=64; 42.4%),
  • Nearly 50% of respondents stated that immigrant children are increasingly being diagnosed with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression (n=76, 49.2%),
  • Almost a quarter said that parents are increasingly seeking mental health care for their children (n=45, or 23.4%).
  • Almost 70% of providers reported that immigrant families were increasingly expressing fear in bringing their children to school, the park, or recreational activities due to fear of immigrant enforcement activities (n=104, 69.4%).
  • Two-thirds of respondents observed an increase in families concerns about enrolling in Medi-Cal, WIC, CalFresh or other public programs (n=101, 66.9%)
  • While nearly 40% stated that immigrant families have increasingly expressed interest in disenrolling in Medi-Cal, WIC, CalFresh or other public programs (n=56, 37.6%).

This document is brought to you by The Children’s Partnership, The California Program on Access to Care (CPAC), California Primary Care Association, Dr. Cecilia Ayon, and the 151 providers who participated in the survey.


  • Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Costello, M. (2016). After election day: The Trump effect// The impact of the 2016 presidential election on our nation’s schools. Southern Poverty Law Center, Retrieved from
  • Potochnick, S. R., & Perreira, K. M. (2010). Depression and anxiety among first-generation immigrant Latino youth. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 198(7), 470-477.
  • Priest, N., Paradies, Y., Trenerry, B., Truong, M., Karlsen, S., & Kelly, Y. (2013). A systematic review of studies examining the relationship between reported racism and health and wellbeing for children and young people. Social Science & Medicine, 95, 115-127.
  • Umaña-Taylor, A. J., Tynes, B. M., Toomey, R. B., et al. (2015). Latino adolescents’ perceived discrimination in online and offline settings: An examination of cultural risk and protective factors. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 87-100.

Upcoming Events

The Children’s Partnership and the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) launched Healthy Mind, Healthy Future, a research, and policy project that aims to better understand the impact of immigration enforcement on the mental health and well being of children in immigrant families in California. Our team conducted multiple research activities with health care providers, immigrant parents and their children, and key stakeholders who work closely with immigrant communities in California to better understand how immigrant families are faring today and what we can do to support them. Join this webinar to learn about our research findings, implications on the health and well being of children in California, and opportunities for future advocacy. Register at: Feel free to share with your networks via social media.   Sample Twitter Posts or share our Facebook Event: Join @KidsPartnership and @CALimmigrant August 7th for a webinar sharing research and discussing the impact of immigration enforcement on the #mentalhealth of #children of immigrants! Register at  #HealthyMindHealthyFuture

Social Media Toolkit

To download: Right-click the desired image and choose Save Image.

Tweet: #California is home to 9 million #children, half of which have an immigrant parent. New @KidsPartnership report provides a health provider perspective on California’s children in immigrant families.

Tweet: Immigrant families have long endured trauma, anxiety & other longstanding negative health impacts due 2 unjust policies that separate families & go against American values of inclusion & equality. Learn about the health implications of these policies at:

Tweet: DYK: 90% of surveyed health care providers in #CA reported an increase in anxiety and fear, among children in immigrant families, due to detention and deportation. 50% of providers also saw an increase in anxiety and depression diagnosis. Learn more:

Tweet@KidsPartnership commissioned a survey on #California’s #children in #immigrant families’ and their families access to care & overall #health. Findings highlight negative effects of federal anti-family and anti-immigrant policies. Learn more:

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