Child Mental Health Forum - Roberto G. Gonzales, Ph.D.
Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America
Roberto G. Gonzales, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education
This presentation draws on two longitudinal studies to examine the relationship between undocumented immigration status and mental and emotional health for young immigrants who grow up in the United States. In particular, it focuses on transitions from childhood to adolescence and young adulthood, as these young people exit the legally protected status of K-12 students and enter into adult roles that require legal status as the basis for participation. This collision among contexts makes for a turbulent transition and has profound implications for identity formation, friendship patterns, aspirations and expectations, and social and economic mobility. Undocumented children move from protected to unprotected, from inclusion to exclusion, from de facto legal to "illegal." In the process, they undergo a transformation that involves the almost complete retooling of daily routines, survival skills, aspirations, and social patterns. Finally, it examines the effects of confusing and conflicting experiences of belonging and exclusion on their mental and emotional health as well as the protective factors that may shape resilience.
Physicians (psychiatrists, pediatricians, child neurologists), psychologists, social workers, other mental health clinicians and researchers, and students and trainees.
Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:
- Examine the link between immigration status and well-being.