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The Consequence of Detention Centers on Mental Health of Immigrants Who Have Experience Trauma Throughout Their Lives

Daysi Tobal


Currently, the United States is experiencing an immigration crisis in which policies, such as zero tolerance, family separation, and the use of detention centers have been implemented to solve the crisis. It is important to acknowledge that immigrants are affected by trauma at different stages of their lives, which negatively impacts their mental health. These United States immigration policies and laws are adding to the trauma immigrants experience. Although these policies and laws affect different groups of immigrants, Guatemala presents an interesting case. Guatemala is known as a country suffering from violence and impoverished conditions, causing many to seek refuge in the United States. Guatemalan immigrants have been exposed to traumatic events at different stages of their lives which has left them in a vulnerable state. As the United States immigration policies and laws are implemented, it leads to more traumatic experiences that negatively impact their mental health. This paper traces the various source of trauma that Guatemalan migrants experience. The first is through the post-war, and it interconnects with pre-migration trauma. Both of these sources contribute to the deterioration of their mental health with the result of migration. Then there is migration journey trauma in which these individuals are exposed to different challenges and traumatic events that put their mental health at risk. The last source of trauma happens during post-migration due to the U.S. policies and laws that have been implemented in which it does not only ignore their previous trauma and mental health needs, but also exacerbates the deterioration of mental health. The enforcement of U.S. laws and policies leaves immigrants in a vulnerable state. Post-migration trauma is emphasized in this paper because it is an issue that many are exposed to, and it needs to be addressed. These findings suggest that there is a need for better understanding of trauma. Also, there is a need for interventions in detention centers to diminish trauma and poor mental health.

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