Perceived structural vulnerabilities among detained noncitizen immigrants in Minnesota

Kazumi Tsuchiya, Olivia Toles, Christopher Levesque, Kimberly Horner, Eric Ryu, Linus Chan, Jack Dewaard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Across several decades there has been an unprecedented increase in immigration enforcement including detention and deportation. Immigration detention profoundly impacts those experiencing detention and their family members. An emerging area of research has found that immigrants experience a number of challenges which constrain and limit their decisions, choices, and options for security and integration in the United States due to social, political and structural determinants. These determinants lead to greater structural vulnerabilities among immigrants. The purpose of the current study was to illuminate the perceived vulnerabilities of detained noncitizen immigrants as they are raised and described while attending case hearings at the Bloomington, Minnesota immigration court. Through conducting a thematic analysis of notes derived from third party immigration court observers, three areas of perceived vulnerability were identified. These perceived vulnerabilities include 1) migration and motivations to migrate, 2) structural vulnerabilities (e.g., discrimination, financial insecurity, social ties and family support, stable or fixed residence, English language proficiency, health and mental health) in the US, and 3) challenges in navigating immigration detention. These findings demonstrate that noncitizen immigrants who are undergoing immigration detention are experiencing multiple intersecting vulnerabilities which profoundly impact their lives. Collaborative efforts across sectors are needed to work towards comprehensive immigration reforms including both short-term and long-term solutions to address pressing issues for noncitizens undergoing immigration detention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0252232
JournalPloS one
Issue number6 June
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Tsuchiya et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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