Kelle Agassiz, PsyD, is a 2021 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle.

Dissertation Committee

Jude Bergkamp, PsyD, Committee Chair

Kara Hartzler, JD, Committee Member

Tanya Golash-Boza, PhD, Committee Member


Immigration, immigration law policy and practice, anti-immigrant rhetoric, citizenship privilege, clinical implications, grounded theory, Central America, Mexico

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Publication Date



The majority of clinicians do not receive education pertaining to the legal aspects of immigration in their curriculum, training, or continuing education. In addition, the process of navigating the immigration system has been exacerbated in recent years due to rapid policy changes under the Trump administration, which has contributed to a hostile political climate, particularly for immigrants from Central America and Mexico. Using a classic grounded theory research approach, this study explored the relationship between the psychological implications of immigration and the legal challenges that immigrants face today, with a specific focus on immigration from Central America and Mexico. Through semi-structured, qualitative interviews with attorneys and clinicians with expertise in immigration, an in-depth understanding of the psychological ramifications of immigration law, policy, and practice was formulated and the grounded theory, The Strategically Broken System emerged. Further, U.S. citizenship privilege was examined, including the impact of participants’ awareness of their own privilege on their work, as well as the factors that contributed to participants’ awareness of U.S. citizenship privilege. The results of this research aim to bolster clinicians’ awareness of the psychological implications of immigration law, policy, and practice by serving as a liaison between attorneys and clinicians, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of care for immigrants.


Kelle Agassiz, PsyD, 2021

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0002-4772-9312