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Understanding Fear of Deportation and Its Impact on Healthcare Access among Immigrant Latinx Men Who Have Sex with Men

Sexual and Gender Minority Health

ISBN: 978-1-83867-147-1, eISBN: 978-1-83867-146-4

ISSN: 1057-6290

Publication date: 15 January 2021


Purpose: Fear of deportation and its relationship to healthcare access has been less studied among immigrant Latinx men who have sex with men (MSM), a population at risk for HIV and characterized by their multiple minority statuses. The first step is to accurately measure their fear of deportation.

Approach: We used an exploratory sequential mixed methods design. Eligibility criteria were that research participants be ages 18–34 years; Latinx; cisgender male; having had sex with another male; residing in the District of Columbia metro area; and not a US citizen or legal permanent resident. In Study 1, we used in-depth interviews and thematic analysis. Using participants' interview responses, we inductively generated 15 items for a fear of deportation scale. In Study 2, we used survey data to assess the scale's psychometric properties. We conducted independent samples t-test on the associations between scale scores and barriers to healthcare access.

Findings: For the 20 participants in Study 1, fear of deportation resulted in chronic anxiety. Participants managed their fear through vigilance, and behaviors restricting their movement and social network engagement. In Study 2, we used data from 86 mostly undocumented participants. The scale was internally consistent (α = 0.89) and had a single factor. Those with higher fear of deportation scores were significantly more likely to report avoiding healthcare because they were worried about their immigration status (p = 0.007).

Originality: We described how fear of deportation limits healthcare access for immigrant Latinx MSM.

Research implications: Future research should examine fear of deportation and HIV risk among immigrant Latinx MSM.




This research was made possible by a CFAR Adelante award to T. Yamanis funded by the National Institutes of Health-funded Centers for AIDS Research (P30AI050409 and P30AI117970) and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). A. del Río-González would also like to acknowledge her CFAR Adelante award (P30AI050409 and P30AI117970). The project was additionally supported by the District of Columbia Center for AIDS Research, an NIH-funded program (AI117970). We are very grateful to the staff of La Clínica del Pueblo who helped implement the studies. We would also like to thank Maria Cecilia Zea, Lisa Bochey, Ana Ramé Montiel, Arturo Cortés, Allison O'Rourke, and Maren Lujan for their excellent research assistance. Finally, we are indebted to our participants who generously and courageously shared their experiences with us.


Yamanis, T.J., del Río-González, A.M., Rapoport, L., Norton, C., Little, C., Linhales Barker, S. and Ornelas, I.J. (2021), "Understanding Fear of Deportation and Its Impact on Healthcare Access among Immigrant Latinx Men Who Have Sex with Men", LeBlanc, A.J. and Perry, B.L. (Ed.) Sexual and Gender Minority Health (Advances in Medical Sociology, Vol. 21), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 103-131.



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