Things That Matter

The Trump Administration’s Assault On The Undocumented Community Is Negatively Impacting People’s Mental Health

“I’d gone from being this really gregarious, social, extroverted person to not being able to go to the grocery store when there were other people around because I felt like I was having a heart attack,” undocumented immigrant Azul Uribe told USA Today about her experience of learning that she was undocumented at 22 years old. Uribe moved to the United States from México when she was 11 years old, proud to be a first-generation immigrant. It wasn’t until her 22nd birthday that her family told her they were all undocumented. For Uribe, that’s the moment that her mental health would change forever. Three years of immigration legal battles later, she voluntarily deported from the U.S. at 36 years old, taking a bus to a place that she hadn’t been to since she was a child.

Roughly 10 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. are subject to far higher rates of depression, anxiety, and trauma-related stress because of their status. It’s also their status that prevents them from accessing treatment.

While Trump hasn’t deported nearly as many immigrants as Obama, his administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has created a far more intense culture of fear.

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Obama’s administration did not advertise its hardline immigration stances or boast about ICE raids. Trump, however, has listed ongoing threats of ICE raids as promises to his base that have resulted in millions of undocumented immigrants becoming afraid to even grocery shop. A recent study by the Urban Institute shows that immigrant families that avoid routine activities for fear of ICE are three times more likely to experience psychological distress than immigrant families who don’t avoid those same daily routines. 

Researchers and psychologists are pointing to a chronic state of elevated fear response as responsible for the depression, anxiety and stress exacerbated in the undocumented community.

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Liliana Campos, 32, has become a permanent resident in the last year, but the 22 years of fear she felt prior still puts her on high alert when ICE raid rumors are spread. “It’s very alarming to be in a position to be in,” Campos told USA Today of her previous undocumented status. “Our fear response is activated every day for years. It has consequences.” Today, Campos is a P.h.D. student at the University of San Francisco working on a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. She also works for Immigrants Rising as the Mental Health Advocate and is creating an online service that will connect undocumented people with pro bono mental health workers.

Undocumented immigrants also lack access to health care, often needing to pay out of pocket for any kind of medical treatment.

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Gustavo Guerrero, 27, suffers from anxiety as a result of his undocumented status. Guerrero, originally from Honduras, swam across the Rio Grande when he was 12 years old. “It’s always in the back of your mind,” Guerrero told USA Today. “You’re driving, you’re working, you’re sleeping in your home, you’re picking up your kids from school, you’re constantly thinking about it.” Without health insurance, the only way he can treat his anxiety is by paying the full $150 per therapy session out of pocket, and he can only go once a month. 

Some families have been torn apart because mental healthcare access wasn’t available to treat severe mental illness.

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Garcia Mendoza, 23, has dedicated her life to helping the undocumented community cope with stress through holistic health practices like yoga and breathwork. She and her older brother moved to Albuquerque from México when she was 8 years old. Two years later, her brother began suffering from bipolar disorder. Without access to resources and fear of even searching for those resources, her parents felt like they had no choice but to send him back to México for treatment. Mendoza grew up in Albuquerque without her brother.

Mixed status families suffer as a family unit for fear of deportation as well.

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Undocumented immigrants move to the United States to create a new life for themselves. That life includes creating a family. The children of undocumented immigrants who carry U.S. citizenship grow up in fear of their parents being deported. Regardless of status, the rhetoric of President Trump has seeped into brown children’s heads. Cristian Solano-Córdova told USA Today that maintaining a positive sense of self is challenging, “especially when society is telling you that you’re, you know, evil, that you’re a criminal, that you’re a rapist.” 

The night Trump was elected, his eight-year-old sister asked him if she was going to be deported.

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10-Year-Old Boy Found Crying Alone Near Border Had Been Deported And Kidnapped With His Mom

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10-Year-Old Boy Found Crying Alone Near Border Had Been Deported And Kidnapped With His Mom

Anyone who has watched this video of a 10-year-old boy asking a Border Patrol officer for help through tears, can admit just how heartbreaking it is. The boy says he was left alone while traveling with a group across the border when they abandoned him.

But now his family is speaking out and sharing the backstory to the emotional video that further highlights just how urgently the crisis at the border needs to be addressed.

Video of a 10-year-old boy wandering near the border quickly went viral for how heartbreaking it was.

A heartbreaking video shared last week by Customs and Border Protection of an unnamed 10-year-old boy found wandering alone in Texas underscored how desperate the situation is on the southern border. The video showed a young Nicaraguan boy found on the side of a dirt road by an off-duty Border Patrol agent after wandering alone for four hours in the desert.

People reports that U.S. Customs and Border Protection released footage of the incident, which happened on April 1 by a Rio Grande border patrol agent. The boy explains to the officer that he woke up and discovered that his group had left him behind. “I came looking because I didn’t know where to go, and they can also rob or kidnap me or something,” he told the officer. 

In a statement to the publication, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the agent “transported the child to a Border Patrol facility where he was fed and medically screened.”

But now we’re getting a better understanding of what led to this heartbreaking video.

Now, the boy’s family have described his plight to the Washington Post. Little 10-year-old Wilton Obregon and his mom crossed the border into Texas last month but were expelled under Title 42, a policy that releases migrants back to Mexico without letting them seek asylum.

Hours after they were sent back, they were kidnapped, according to Wilton’s Miami-based uncle, Misael Obregon. The kidnappers called him and demanded a $10,000 ransom but Misael could only pay $5,000 so the kidnappers only released Wilton. They dumped Wilton back at the border. Obregon said his sister is still in custody of the kidnappers. “Now I’m worried that she’s going to die,” he said.

In fact, the boys mom called Misael Obregon on Friday morning, crying after seeing the video of her son crying at the border.

The family’s plight highlights the need for reforms to Title 42.

During the campaign, President Biden complained about the humanitarian consequences of the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forced asylum seekers to wait for the their court hearings in Mexico. Many were forced to wait in dangerous refugee camps along the border that subjected them to human trafficking, violence, and sexual assault.

Under Title 42, though, which began under President Donald Trump and continues under Biden, asylum seekers are again in the same desperate situation. It’s unclear how many of them have been kidnapped.

“The Biden administration is winding down one of the Trump administration’s most notorious policies but at the same time it is expelling other asylum seekers back to the very same dangers, attacks and kidnappings through its continued use of the Trump administration’s Title 42 policy to evade U.S. refugee law,” Eleanor Acer, senior director of refugee protection at Human Rights First, said in a statement.

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New Findings Show That QAnon Followers Are More Likely to Suffer From Mental Illness

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New Findings Show That QAnon Followers Are More Likely to Suffer From Mental Illness

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It’s no secret that QAnon followers subscribe to some outlandish ideas. The biggest one being that the government is run by a cabal of elite, satan-worshipping pedophiles. And while critics could chalk up these conspiracy theorists to a few gullible internet users, the reality is much more complicated than that.

According to new research, QAnon followers are more likely to suffer from mental illness than the rest of the population.

The data comes from a study conducted by Georgia State University by radicalization expert, Dr. Sophia Moskalenko. According to her findings, out of the QAnon followers arrested for crimes since 2018,  68% “reported they had received mental health diagnoses.” That’s in comparison to 19% of the rest of the population.

These diagnoses were manifold: post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, paranoid schizophrenia, Munchausen by proxy syndrome, as well as depression, anxiety and addiction struggles. These numbers were self-reported by QAnon offenders via social media posts or through interviews.

Due to these numbers, Dr. Moskalenko concludes that “QAnon is less a problem of terrorism and extremism than it is one of poor mental health.”

According to Dr. Moskalenko’s research, 44% of the QAnon insurrectionists “experienced a serious psychological trauma that preceded their radicalization, such as physical or sexual abuse of themselves or their children.” These past traumas may explain why QAnon supporters are more likely to believe outlandish conspiracies of elite government pedophile rings.

As Dr. Moskalenko writes: “In my view, the solution to this aspect of the QAnon problem is to address the mental health needs of all Americans – including those whose problems manifest as QAnon beliefs. Many of them – and many others who are not QAnon followers – could clearly benefit from counseling and therapy.”

Since COVID-19 radically changed most people’s way of life, mental health problems skyrocketed in the United States.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the number of people suffering from anxiety and depression quadrupled during quarantine. It doesn’t seem a coincidence, therefore, that the QAnon movement gained such momentum during a year when people were already suffering from extreme stress and isolation.

But just because QAnon followers are more likely to suffer from mental illness, that does not mean that every person who suffers from mental illness is a QAnon follower.

It’s unfortunate that power-hungry politicians have leveraged the beliefs of already-vulnerable people to their advantage.

In a time when so many people feel much more fragile than they did before, there are some bad actors out there who are using misguided conspiracy theorists to push their own agenda.

Politicians like Donald Trump, Rep. Lauren Boebert and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene have used QAnon rhetoric to recruit voters. Instead, they should be getting their constituents the help they need instead of manipulating and taking advantage of them. These so-called leaders are preying upon people who are unwell and looking for help and guidance.

As one Twitter user wrote: “‘Q Anon’ has consumed those already plagued with mental illness. We need to address this because this is how ordinary American citizens become radicalized.”

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