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Study: Millennial Illegal Immigrants At Highest Risk For Psychological Distress, 'Live In Constant Fear Of Deportation'

HOUSTON (CBSNewYork) - A new study finds Millennial-age immigrants who came to the United States illegally as small children are now at the highest risk for suffering from psychological distress as young adults.

Researchers at Rice University looked at nearly 260 people of Mexican heritage between the ages of 18 to 25 who fall under the qualifications of the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, more commonly known as DREAMers.

"DREAMers are often marginalized and discriminated against, and as a result they may become isolated," said Luz Garcini, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychology at Rice. "They live in constant fear of deportation and experience a sense of voicelessness, invisibility and limited opportunities, due to their conflicting undocumented status."

It is estimated more than 750,000 people fall under the protections of the DREAM Act.

More than 90 percent of all respondents in the study cited the loss of their home, social status and family as major factors in their distress.

In April, an advocacy group said a 23-year-old man who fit the DREAM Act protections was deported to Mexico. The National Immigration Law Center sued the federal government Tuesday in San Diego to obtain records on Juan Manuel Montes, who was detained by the Border Patrol in February in a California border town.

On the campaign trail, President Donald Trump indicated he would deport anyone in the country illegally, but softened his stance just before being sworn into office.

"They shouldn't be very worried. They are here illegally. They shouldn't be very worried. I do have a big heart," Trump said at the time.

"Debates on programs and policies pertaining to DREAMers are complex and multifaceted, and differences of opinion and divisions on policy options are long-standing," Garcini said in her summary of the study.

The study was funded by the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program.

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