A good number of immigrant Hispanic families settled in the United States are experiencing again severe periods of crisis, confusion, and uncertainty. Let me explain why I am affirming that.

First of all, let’s remember that after migration took place, the newly arrived persons and/or families faced and experienced a psychosocial process of adjustment to the new setting. This process is called acculturation.

The social scientistics present this acculturative process as an ongoing and dynamic process of learning resulting from the day-to-day mutual contact and communication of immigrant persons and/or families with both native and host cultures.

To understand the importance and the effects of those changes on the immigrant family, at least two very complex situations require attention. First, we need to remember that every family is involved in a continuous interchange with its economic and sociocultural environment to accomplish its universal functions or tasks. Consequently, the cultural values and ethnicity of the external world define the family structure and internal organization and its values, communication, and behavior. Secondly, either through generalized learning in a particular environment or as a result of specific instruction and training, parents teach their children the language, rituals, customs, habits, rules, and ethnocultural modes of behavior to live together in their immediate environment.

Therefore, the migration experience of the families interrupts and ruptures the continuity of the family interactions with their native culture. It is, throughout the transition from one cultural environment to the other, immigrant families give up roles and ways of functioning that do not fit with the new cultural values of their immediate environment and adapt to those demanded by the new society. Those changes and modifications help the immigrant family to continue being the matrix of its members’ psychological development, and to accommodate to the new society and its different cultural requests and challenges.
The current situation of a large number of immigrant Hispanic families due to their illegal status and to the fear of deportation of one or two of its members puts in hold all those modifications and adjustment achieved and places the internal growth of these families in a very distressful status. We are already facing the consequences.

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Dr. Gelasia Marquez is an immigrant clinical and bilingual school psychologist. Dr. Marquez has studies, researches, articles, and programs aimed to help immigrant Hispanic children, adolescents and families in their processes of transition after migration

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