Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Pablo Arriaza


A significant percentage of undocumented immigrants who come to the United States include women suffering from trauma and abuse. In Southwest Texas, many immigrant women begin their stay in the United States, as residents of an immigration Residential Detainment Center (RDC). Social workers in RDCs are challenged to understand their roles and responsibilities in treating the mental health need of these women. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of social workers, in RDCs, regarding their roles and responsibilities in meeting the mental health needs of immigrant women with a history of personal trauma. Using action research methodology, 3 focus group discussions were conducted with 4 licensed clinical social workers (LCSW) who had experience working with immigrant women with histories of trauma and abuse, living in RDCs. The theoretical concept of ecosystems undergirded the analysis of the data collected from focus groups and explored the themes related to roles and responsibilities, types of trauma, aftercare, services, and social, political, and structural barriers. The outcomes of this research study suggested LCSW social workers recognized a need to expand service provisions beyond the walls of the RDC by helping immigrant women connect with community resources that will aid in their settlement in the United States, if granted asylum. When considering positive social change, the social workers considered how their intervention could affect access to goods and services, as well as the utilization of community mental health resources for the immigrant women, with histories of trauma and abuse, and their families.