Are We Really Going to Get out of COVID-19 Together? Secured Legal Status and Trust Among Refugees and Migrants
Building up on pre-existing vulnerabilities and social exclusions, refugees and migrants are disproportionately suffering from the negative effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. Insecure legal status is an additional stressor that may accentuate social cleavages and ultimately impair their trust in host society and institutions. Based on a diverse sample of refugees and migrants in Belgium (N = 355), the present study investigates direct and indirect effects of legal status—measured as the type of residence permit held by participants—on social and political trust during the COVID-19 outbreak. Secured legal status was positively associated with social and political trust directly, and indirectly via a serial mediation composed by two cumulative stages. First, participants with a more secured legal status experienced less material difficulties to cope with the pandemic (i.e., first material stage). Second, participant who experienced less material difficulties identified more with the host society (i.e., second symbolic stage). In turn, reduced material difficulties and increased identification with the host society were both positively associated with social and political trust. Our findings advocate for securing legal status of refugees and migrants to help societies cope cohesively with the long-lasting effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.