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Sanctuary City Policy: A Mechanism for Reducing Inequalities by Immigrant Status in Latinx Children’s Mental Health

UCR Professors receive new grant funded by the William T. Grant Foundation

Principal and Co-Principal Investigators:  Cecilia Ayón, Tanya Nieri, Bruce Link

Title: Sanctuary City Policy: A Mechanism for Reducing Inequalities by Immigrant Status in Latinx Children’s Mental Health

This study aims to examine if “sanctuary city” policy is an effective mechanism for reducing inequalities by immigrant origin status in Latino children’s mental health. In response to restrictive national immigration policy, local communities have resisted by declaring themselves “sanctuary cities.” We propose to study whether this inclination to protect benefits the mental health of Latino children in immigrant families. Ample evidence indicates that children in mixed-status families experience mental health problems when restrictive policies are imposed. Not known is whether sanctuary city policy can improve mental health. To answer this question, we combine data that we collected on California’s 482 cities concerning whether and when they implemented a sanctuary city policy with data from the large, multi-year California Health Interview Survey. Using our data on the timing of sanctuary city policies and CHIS data over the period 2008 to 2018, we will leverage a three-part analysis strategy to determine whether sanctuary city policies have beneficial mental health effects on Latino children in immigrant families. If we find support for our hypotheses, then findings would indicate that a “sanctuary city” designation could reduce inequalities by immigrant origin status faced by Latino children.  A null finding would also provide useful information, as policy makers would then know that other policy initiatives or policies at different levels are needed.