Daniela Navarro, a fourth-year psychology student, along with other undergraduate students from around the country, will present their research findings on the inhumane sanitary conditions during COVID-19 of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention Centers on Feb. 11 through a Zoom webinar.
Navarro transcribed 33 migrant testimony calls made to the Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention and examined the common theme of an unhygienic environment that resulted in migrant complaints regarding basic necessities, which represented a clear violation of ICE detention.
“I feel like we’re privileged enough to be able to have face coverings, but these people don’t,” said Navarro. “They described their face coverings as rags, no social distancing, and people had cases of COVID-19 within the centers, so this was very concerning.”
The research was supervised by Niel Harvey, an associate professor in the Department of Government at New Mexico State University and funded by the National Science Foundation with a $373,256 grant for its scientific and social benefits.
The report examines five topics: micro-aggressions and humiliating treatment; denial of reasonable telephone services and legal representation; poor quality food, hunger and sickness; cruel sanitary conditions and insufficient protections from COVID-19 all within detention centers. Each section was investigated by the undergraduate researchers, including Navarro, whose area of study was the detrimental conditions of the centers.
According to Navarro, Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention began receiving phone calls within the first two months of the pandemic reaching the United States. She reported 33% of the migrants expressed they lacked essentials like access to showers, personal hygiene items, clean areas and bed sheets. According to Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention, the research report is being distributed among legislators in New Mexico and West Texas.
“I already kind of had an idea of what was going on but to get this firsthand experience, and I didn’t even talk to them; I saw the notes when I was transcribing,” said Navarro. “It was so emotionally hard to just see what was happening.”
Navarro’s passion for immigration came from her personal experience immigrating to the United States with her family at age 8. Navarro grew up near the border in an immigrant community and said this as the reason she applied to the competitive New Mexico State University undergraduate research program and why she aspires to become a counseling psychologist.
Navarro described CPP Associate Professor in Alejandro Morales as a mentor to her throughout her research work at CPP.
“I’m happy to see that she was working on a project that addressed an issue that is affecting people right now,” said Morales. “This experience gives her the opportunity to research an issue not only important in our field of psychology, but also terms of policy issues.”
Morales also conducts research on the effects of language brokering within the Latino immigrant families, as well a focus on the psychological health of Latino gay men.
“I apply to research programs that focus on the Latinx communities and immigration, I want to pursue that in my career,” said Navarro. “My ultimate goal is to become a professor and mentor students from marginalized communities.”
Students who would like to view the New Mexico State University research report and attend the Zoom webinar can visit https://deptofgov.nmsu.edu/.
Students who want to find more information about the undocumented student services visit https://www.cpp.edu/broncodreamers/index.shtml.