When a man gets deported, the focus is often on what he might have done wrong and not on who he leaves behind.
But a new Migration Policy Institute report focuses on how the deportation of a parent affects the well-being of a child.
The report, done in conjunction with the Urban Institute, estimates that between 2009 and 2013, a half-million parents of roughly the same number of children who are citizens may have been deported. The vast majority were fathers, and most of their children stayed in the country, even when they ended up in the care of distant relatives and friends.
Behavioral problems can arise at school as a result of depression and anger. Living situations and economic security can become tenuous. Access to benefits such as food stamps and healthcare can be jeopardized. But too often, advocates say, these consequences of parental deportation on a child’s well-being are overlooked.
“That’s the collateral damage that gets lost in this [immigration] discussion,” said Heather Koball, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and one of the lead investigators on the report.
While Immigration and Customs Enforcement has refined its enforcement priorities in recent years to target unauthorized immigrants who are seen as national security risks, or who have been convicted of felonies or significant misdemeanors, as Marc Rosenblum, deputy director of MPI’s U.S. Immigration Policy Program, said, there is no good way to deport parents “without severely damaging immigrant communities.”