Deportation and detention of undocumented immigrants to the U.S and their U.S born children is identified as an issue affecting part of the population.
This paper discusses, the consequences of deportation and detention of undocumented immigrant parents to the children, the impact on their social economic lives, emotional and psychological effects. This paper is built on the fact that statistically, most immigrants into the U.S are unregistered for various reasons, yet give birth to children who become citizens of the State. In addition, these immigrants always face an impending threat of deportation and the potential reality of detention once discovered by the immigration officials.
The paper further identifies and analyses the mixed status families born from this situation and the consequence of such status quo for children who have to constantly deal with the fact that they are in a family unit in which they do not share a common legal status. It is such physiological anguish that this paper identifies, analyses and routes for solutions and recommendations on how to improve the lives of citizen children born to undocumented immigrant parents.
Currently, the United States is home to slightly above 9 million children born to undocumented immigrant parents, many of them from Mexico and Latin America. (Passel, et al., 2011). Approximately 5 million out of this number are U.S citizens by birth born to undocumented immigrant parents in America hence becoming birthright citizens in accordance to the since 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. (Culliton-Ginzales, 2012).
This statistic therefore presents a situation where the children born to these immigrant parents have a sense of belonging by birth but due to age limits yet lead a stressful life as they are always under threat of parental separation. This is true based on the fact that these children’s parents stand the risk of being deported anytime as they are undocumented immigrants. Given the fact that it is not easy for an unregistered immigrant to secure a job in the US, these parents relocate frequently for two major reasons. First, in search of better employment and second, for their own security as they live in fear of being discovered by the U.S Department of Homeland Security’s immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In the event a child experiences the arrest, detention or deportation of his parent, the psychological effects are always evident and the impact has negative effects on their mental health. (Zayas, 2015).
In the past ten years, an average of 2 Million people have been deported and slightly above that detained in the U.S, with 81% of them being from Latin America (Passel, & D’Vera, 2011). The effect of these deportations is not felt on the adults as much as it is on the children. According to (Capps, et.al, 2007) every two deportation of adults have a direct impact on one citizen child. This is because these children are often left to suffer as they are either handed over to child security programs or left with a guardian to take care of them. In most cases they are too young to understand why their parents have to go and they are left behind. In addition, the number of children suffering in the case of deportation and detention of immigrant adults is more since most illegal immigrants always sire a child in the foreign country with the hope of naturalization. This hope is pegged on the fact that the child will become a citizen by birth and the immigrant parent always hopes to naturalize to citizenship (Culliton-Gonzále, 2012).
In the face of deportation and deportation of undocumented immigrants, sometimes children end up being separated from their parents. This results to the citizen children leading poor lives which then cause them to be discriminated in society. Consequently, these conditions combined with traumatic experiences of their parents’ arrests and deportations cause children to suffer poor mental and emotional health. (American Psychological Association, 2012).These emotional and psychologically draining experiences by children following a parent’s detention or deportation cause the children to develop health issues including but not limited to ; a disconnect with their parents which is presented as difficulty or inability to communicate with detained parents (Migration Policy Institute, 2015). With deported parents, the children face hard economic times. Finances being hard to come by the children turn to educational institutions as a safe haven since they offer family services. In addition, the officials in the schools do not inquire documentation on undocumented populations. A level of trust develops between the children and the officials, one which would be impossible to develop with other government agencies. Immigrants also tend to trust legal service providers and faith based organizations. (Migration Policy Institute, 2015). More often than not, as immigrant parents struggle to make ends meet in the harsh economy, children of undocumented immigrants suffer food insecurity more compared to those of U.S citizens (Jensen, 2014).
. (Passel & D’Vera, 2009).
This situation sometimes get murkier when the child, now an adult of 21 years tries to petition for his parents and the state categorizes the parents as “inadmissible” based on the length of their unlawful presence in the U.S. At this point, the recommendation is for the parent to live outside the U.S.A for ten years then apply for green card, again causing the separation agony further for both parent and child.