“Go back to where you came from”: A Qualitative Investigation of Immigration Discrimination Among Adolescents

Author: Manuel Abundis-Morales

Faculty Supervisor: Zena Mello

Department: Psychology

This qualitative study examined immigration discrimination among adolescents. Data were collected with semi-structured interviews in English and Spanish. Participants were 33 adolescents (M age = 16.4) and 9 teachers (M age = 43), residing in the Western United States. A team of five trained researchers analyzed the data using thematic analysis. Findings indicated three domains. First, The Nature of Immigration Discrimination, revealed a range of discriminatory experiences, from indirect discrimination and subtle biases to overt acts and stereotypes perpetuated through media. Second, immigration-related discrimination, indicated that participants reported various types of discrimination that were related to immigration, including racism, xenophobia, and colorism. Third, Contextual Experiences of Immigration Discrimination, showed that participants shared barriers related to language, the influence of political climates, and the significance of documentation status. Overall, results highlight how immigration discrimination among adolescents is multifaceted and includes experiences that are unique to immigration as well as similar to other marginalized identities, such as race/ethnicity and dark skin color. Examining immigration-specific discrimination is crucial for promoting the well-being of adolescents with immigrant identities and developing strategies to address discrimination and promote inclusivity in diverse communities.