FROM THE CEO
The United States has approximately 39.9 million immigrants — the largest
number in its history — according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Protecting
immigrants’ mental health and helping the public and policymakers better
understand the psychological processes associated with immigration are
among the factors driving APA’s ongoing efforts in this area.
For more than a decade, APA has produced resolutions,
reports and policy initiatives to improve public awareness and
understanding, psychological services and training, and public
policies on immigration. As always, APA’s focus is to provide
non-partisan, scientific evidence that can inform and educate.
Among our most significant efforts is the 2011 report from
the APA Presidential Task Force on Immigration, appointed
by then-APA President Melba Vasquez, PhD. Crossroads: The
Psychology of Immigration in the New Century ( www.apa.org/
topics/immigration/ report.aspx) is an evidence-based report
that considers the developmental, clinical, counseling and social
psychological aspects of the immigration experience, especially
factors that facilitate or impede immigrants’ adjustment and
Soon after its release, APA disseminated Crossroads to
members of Congress and held a congressional briefing to
highlight its most critical recommendations. These include
using an ecological perspective to guide behavioral health
interventions, providing culturally competent treatments, and
incorporating an understanding of stigma and social justice
principles in interventions and policies.
The foundation for APA’s work on behalf of immigrants
rests in our 1994 resolution, which urges greater availability
of and access to educational, health, mental health and social
services for immigrant children, youth and families. The
resolution also promotes and supports public policies that
provide for immigrants’ psychosocial needs.
Based on this resolution, APA submitted congressional
testimony in June of 2014 describing psychological issues
related to the immigration experience and calling for policies
that benefit immigrants’ mental health needs, such as reforms
that keep families together and the need to provide trauma-informed mental health services for children apprehended by
U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
In addition, last fall APA joined with 167 groups to oppose
the Obama administration’s expansion of detention centers for
Central American families seeking asylum in the United States.
In a Sept. 25 letter to President Obama, we argued that family
detention may limit access to due process and may harm the
mental and physical health of parents and children.
APA also weighed in on the 2013 debate over S. 744, the
Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration
Modernization Act, calling for lawmakers to support
amendments aimed at improving child well-being and the
rights of same-sex partners.
APA also supports efforts to improve psychological research
and practice in this area. As part of that work, former President
Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD, and APA Recording Secretary Jennifer
F. Kelly, PhD, along with staff from APA’s Public Interest
Directorate, attended the recent conference sponsored by
the National Latina/o Psychological Association entitled
“DREAMers, Immigration and Social Justice: Advancing a
Global Latina/o Psychology Agenda.” This conference featured
research presentations on the impact of public policy, mental
health concerns, and education and training.
The issue of immigration is just one of the many important
national and global concerns in which psychological research
and best practices can provide the public and policymakers
with useful and timely information. By working with a
wide spectrum of stakeholders, APA is able to illustrate the
importance and relevance of our discipline. For timely updates
on APA’s advocacy activities, sign up for alerts at http://
to understanding immigration
By Dr. Norman B. Anderson • APA Chief Executive Officer
See page 56 for an article on children of
immigrants: “DREAMers in limbo.”