New research has shown the devastating effects on children when their undocumented parents are sent back home. The Obama administration has expelled approximately 3.7 million people who were living in the country illegally between 2009 and 2013. While deportations have slowed dramatically, with a shift in enforcement towards weeding out those who actually committed crimes in America, the Migration Policy Institute estimates that many children in the country have either one or no parents in America as a result. And about 5.3 million children are still living with undocumented parents, constantly under threat of losing one or both.
We’re just starting to understand the impact of losing a mother or father can have on those kids’ development.
Reports issued on Monday describe how kids have been affected by deportations in the past several years. Both were funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and conducted by the Migration Policy Institute and the Urban Institute, with the help from research and input from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Academic performance also generally suffers in the wake of a parent’s deportation. One grandmother from the Rio Grande Valley reported this was happening to her grandson. “He was hardworking, he was doing well in school,” she told researchers. “But after all that, he would not go to school, he wouldn’t work, he just sleeps during the day and is out at night. He’s on a bad path now, he’s always going to court.”
Children whose parents have disappeared are not the only ones being affected with depression. The Migration Policy Institute’s research found that the spouses of deported individuals are also highly impacted. Most of who were not the family’s primary breadwinners, and have trouble replacing the income they lost. Immigrant parents already tend to be reluctant to apply for social welfare benefits, even if their children – many of whom are U.S. citizens – are eligible. Along with the inability to apply for driver’s licenses and poor public transportation, that reduces access to healthcare and other services for their children.