Nearly 75% of Latino immigrant youth report living in constant fear of either being deported or having someone they know deported (Yoshikawa, 2017). The lingering possibility of being forcefully separated from their parents produces chronic stress and feelings of dread (e.g., Dreby, 2012). Youth who are exposed to chronic stress are at increased risk to experience severe EBD (Reiss, 2013). One form of helping youth at risk of EBD is to target their coping skills (NRC/IOM, 2009). Hope has been shown to reduce perceived stress and increase the coping strategies that are necessary to release a person’s potential to find solutions to their problems (Synder, 2002).
Methods: This study uses a a standardized self-report survey and a cross-sectional sample of 7th grade Latino immigrant youth (N=136), of which 50% are female, 86% receive free and reduced lunch, 67% were born in the U.S., and 26% took the survey in Spanish. Bivariate correlations examined the basic associations between the variables. A path model examined the hypothesized moderated mediation and tested the ability of stress to mediate the fear of deportation to EBD pathway, and the buffering effects of hope on the fear of deportation to stress path and from the stress to EBD path.
Results: There was a main effect of fear of deportation (FOD) on anxiety (B=.14, p<.001) and stress fully mediated the path from fear of deportation to anxiety (B==.07, p<.05). Hope buffered the effect of fear of deportation on stress (B=-.12, p<.05), and the relation between stress and anxiety (B=-.23, p<.01).
Conclusions: Although stress mediates the FOD to EBD pathway, hope moderates both the path from FOD to stress and from stess to EBD, such that FOD only results in significant increases in stress, and stress only results in increases in EBD when hope is low. Thus, prevention interventions that increase hope can offset the deleterious effects of FOD on EBD in Latino immigrant youth.