8.4 Emerging Directions

Emerging Directions

Immigrant and refugee families may respond with resilience to challenging circumstances and adversity, particularly when policies and resources are in place to support them. Indeed, pro-immigrant policies have been shown to create economic opportunities for immigrant families (Lester & Nguyen, 2015) which allows them to provide for their family’s needs, raise healthy and successful children, and pursue their goals. Although barriers exist, as a whole, immigrants are highly motivated to invest in their families through hard work and education and often express a sense of pride in their independence. Another strength of immigrant communities is a sense of family identity and obligation that often serve as protective factors.

Scholars have pointed to several gaps in the literature on immigrant families. There is a lack of research regarding several specific subgroups in the United States, including Southeast Asian populations and immigrants from the Middle East (Xiong et al., 2004; Foner & Dreby, 2011). Also, research on refugee resilience is lacking in the United States. Research on couples in immigrant and refugee families is also needed (Helms et al., 2011). A focus on resilience offers a new lens that focuses on strengths and protective factors that provide an environment in which immigrant and refugee families can thrive and contribute to a continually changing and increasingly diverse United States society.