Upfront

As part of APA's Mental Health Month activities in May, APA leaders held a May 9 briefing for members of Congress and their staffs on the association's new report Crossroads: The Psychology of Immigration in the New Century. Initiated by APA 2011 President Melba J.T. Vasquez, PhD, the report is APA's most comprehensive scientific review to date on immigration.

The report provides researchers, practitioners, educators, graduate students and policymakers with an understanding of the psychological process of immigration and the demographic changes under way in American society. It also dispels common myths about immigrants and emphasizes the need to value immigrants' unique attributes and contributions, particularly with regard to culture and language.  

"A major reason I chose to prioritize a report on the current state of scientific and professional knowledge about immigration was my concern about the widespread negative views of immigration reported in the media," says Vasquez. "The report seeks to inform clinicians, researchers and the larger public on the scientific evidence in psychology literature in hopes of reducing the gap between research and policy."

In addition to the congressional briefing, APA leaders including Vasquez visited the offices of Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and met with the co-chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) to discuss the report's findings.

The report was prepared by a six-member APA Presidential Task Force on Immigration, whose members are Carola Suárez-Orozco, PhD (chair), Dina Birman, PhD, J. Manuel Casas, PhD, Nadine Nakamura, PhD, Usha Tummala-Narra, PhD, and Michael Zárate, PhD. The task force spent 16 months on research, consultation and writing; the draft was reviewed by an advisory committee, 10 APA divisions, 22 boards and committees and various immigration experts before it was received by the 170 plus members of the APA Council of Representatives in February.

Although recent reports indicate that the pace of immigration is slowing, there are still close to 40 million immigrants residing in our country, says Casas, one of the task force members. "Our nation is undergoing a complex demographic transformation and this report offers tools for psychologists on how best to respond to the needs of immigrants," he said.

—Efua Andoh and Ben Vonachen