Immigration Debate and Its Relationship to the Ethnic Identity Development and Well-Being of Latino and White Youth

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This study collected data from 422 seventh- and eighth-grade adolescents in 2005 and 391 seventh- and eighth-grade adolescents in 2006 in a medium-sized Midwestern community as part of a larger longitudinal study. The 2006 data collection occurred at the height of the national debate about immigration policy and practice. The fortuitous timing of the data collection allowed the authors to compare the responses of seventh- and eighth-grade Latino adolescents surveyed in 2005 with seventh- and eighth-grade students surveyed in 2006 to examine how the debate related to adolescent ethnic identity development and well-being. Using multiple regression analyses the study found evidence that the debate moved eighth-grade Latino students from the undifferentiated stage of ethnic identity development to the exploration stage. Furthermore, it was found that the debate was related to increased levels of acculturative stress and general stress among first-generation eighth-grade Latino students.