Mental Health Effects of Current Immigration Policies on Christian Iraqis in Metro Detroit Open Access

Viars, Erica (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL:


TitleMental Health Effects of Current Immigration Policies on Christian Iraqis in Metro Detroit


Introduction:In June of 2017, new immigration policy prompted the federal detainment of over 114 Iraqis from Metro Detroit, Michigan (MI) in one weekend. The majority of these Iraqis were Chaldeans, a Catholic Iraqi minority group. This religious minority group is particularly concerned with their safety if they are to be deported to Iraq, due to the continued religious persecution of their people in the region. Additionally, many of the detained Chaldeans have lived in the United States for years and own small businesses in the community. Although they have been granted a stay of deportation, as of early 2018, many men are still detained and awaiting court dates. This thesis explored mental health impacts, and coping mechanisms that Chaldean families have used to deal with the trauma of having family members incarcerated pending deportation.


Methods:A cross-sectional qualitative study was conducted, which consisted of six in-depth interviews. Interviews were analyzed and coded using MAXQDA. We sought to understand the Chaldean community’s experiences with immigration and the stresses that each of their families experienced as a result of recent detainments. All of the participants were adult members of the Chaldean community who were impacted in varying ways by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in the Iraqi communities of Southeast Michigan. 


Results:Participants identified financial, emotional, social, and political stressors since the detainments. The participants described the ways in which their families cope with the additional stress, and also discussed the impact of these stressors have had on their family dynamics. Both formal and informal coping mechanisms were identified for dealing with stress.


Conclusions: Most participants expressed a preference for dealing with stress on their own and within their families, as opposed to utilizing formal mental health services and counseling. These findings suggest a stigma for seeking mental health services that exists within the Chaldean community. Additionally, many participants were not aware of the many free public services available to them locally. This lack of resource utilization is concerning for the future development of stress-related diseases and may have implications for child development as well. Our findings support the development of interventions to enhance service accessibility and utilization for Chaldeans in the metro Detroit area.


Key words:Immigration, mental health, stress, Detroit, Chaldean, Iraq, qualitative research

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

Introduction and Rationale

Objectives and Aims

Chapter 2: Review of the Literature

Chapter 3: Methodology

Study Design

Data Collection

Research Tools

Participant Selection and Sample Size

Data Saturation

Ethics and Informed Consent


Iterative Process


Data Analysis

Chapter 4: Results


Participant Information


Coping Strategies

Results Summary

Chapter 5: Discussion

Key Findings

Public Health Implications

Study Limitations

Future Recommendations



Appendix A: In-Depth Interview Guide

Appendix B: Consent Script

About this Master's Thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Partnering Agencies
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files