Immigrant Family Resilience in Context: Using a Community-Based Approach to Build a New Conceptual Model

Author(s): Colleen K. VESELY ; Bethany L. LETIECQ ; Rachael D. GOODMAN


Immigrant families settling in the United States face pressures to acculturate and become self-sufficient, yet their lives are highly regulated by restrictive and punitive policies and programs that may hinder their ability to cope with exposure to trauma and to build resilience. We theorize that U.S. policies and practices may exacerbate immigration-related trauma experiences and/or create new traumas and stressors for families. To demonstrate our reasoning, we use exemplar cases from our community-based participatory research project in partnership with immigrant women. We situate and contextualize the lived experiences and uncertainties of immigrant families and offer a new conceptual model for understanding how macro-level forces may impede immigrants’ resilience. The model includes uncertainty and family separation; ecosystemic trauma and stress, including institutional betrayal trauma; limited navigational capital; and erosion of collectivism and community solidarity. Implications for future research and theory development are discussed.

Tags: United States, Families, Resilience, Acculturation, Immigration policies, Family separation, Uncertainty, Community

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