Immigration has been a hot topic in the United States for decades, with polarizing views taking center stage in the political sphere. The U.S government has, in recent years, tightened its grip on illegal immigration, and it’s heavily enforcing them. As a result, thousands of undocumented immigrants have been deported back to their countries of origin.
While the issue of illegal immigration is widely debated, little attention is given to the children of undocumented immigrants who are born in the United States. These children, often referred to as “anchor babies,” are entitled to American citizenship by birthright under the 14th amendment of the constitution.
The deportation of their parents has profound and long-lasting effects on these children. In this article, we will explore the impact of deportation on domestic-born children of deported illegal immigrants.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, there were approximately 6 million children living in families with at least one undocumented parent in 2017. Among these, about 4.1 million were born in the United States and are U.S citizens. The rest, about 1.9 million, are undocumented.
The number of children who are left behind after their parents are deported is difficult to estimate. The U.S government does not keep track of how many children are impacted by the deportation of their parents. However, estimates suggest that the number of children affected could be in the hundreds of thousands.
When an undocumented immigrant is deported, they are forced to leave the United States and return to their country of origin. This process often happens quickly, with little time for preparation or planning.
Most deportations happen because the individual entered the United States illegally or overstayed their visa. Deportation can also occur when someone is convicted of a crime, even if they have lived in the U.S for many years.
The deportation process is often traumatic for both the parent and the child. Children are left feeling abandoned, confused, and overwhelmed. Parents often feel helpless and ashamed for putting their children in such a position.
The Effect of Deportation on Children
The deportation of parents often leaves their children in a precarious situation. Children may be left without a caregiver, or they may have to leave the United States to be reunited with their deported parent.
The emotional impact on children is immense. Children may feel confused, scared, and insecure about their future. Younger children may not even understand what is happening or why they are being separated from their parent.
The trauma of losing a parent to deportation can have long-term emotional effects on children. Studies have shown that children of deported parents are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and stress-related disorders.
The deportation of a parent often results in a significant loss of income for the family. The parent who is left behind must take on all of the financial responsibilities, which can be a struggle. Additionally, the cost of legal fees associated with the deportation process can be a financial burden on the family.
Children of deported parents often experience significant disruptions in their education. They may have to leave the United States to be reunited with their deported parent or remain in the United States without their parents.
In either situation, children may struggle academically and socially. They may fall behind in school and have difficulty making friends or adjusting to their new living situation.
Children of deported parents may also face legal challenges. If they are left behind in the U.S, they may have to rely on the legal system to establish guardianship or custody.
Children who are deported with their parent may have difficulty adjusting to life in a new country. They may struggle to learn the language, adapt to a new culture and different laws and regulations.
While the federal government has deported undocumented immigrants for decades, recent actions by the Trump administration have intensified efforts to curb illegal immigration. In 2018, the government adopted a “zero-tolerance” policy towards illegal border crossings. The policy led to the separation of thousands of families.
Public outcry over the policy led to its reversal. However, deportations have continued at a high rate. In fiscal year 2019, the U.S government deported 267,258 individuals, slightly fewer than the 282,242 who were deported in the previous year.
State and local governments have taken steps to counteract federal immigration policies that tear families apart. Several states have established a fund to provide legal assistance for undocumented immigrants facing deportation. Various localities have implemented policies to limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.
The deportation of undocumented immigrants often has a significant impact on their children, especially those who were born in the United States. Children may experience emotional, economic, educational, and legal challenges as a result of their parents’ deportation. While steps have been taken at the state and local levels to mitigate the effects of deportation, more needs to be done to address the underlying issues of immigration and family separation.
Advocates for the improvement of human rights allowed to illegal immigrants include have maintained that ambiguous deportations laws result the separation of families. The alleged effect that deportation has on children can be devastating. Recently, the Department of Homeland Security released a statement that estimated 2.2 million deportations in the two years. The staggering nature of those statistics suggests that the United States government has deported immigrants, legal or illegal, at a trend of around one million people per year. Further consideration of size of these numbers illustrates the effect that it may potentially have on both local and communal levels, resulting in the obliteration families, communities, and social structures.
Encapsulated in the total 2.2 million immigrants that had faced deportation, over 100,000 were parents of naturalized children; in other words, children with legal citizenship. The deportation of parents lacking legal citizenship has been argued to mar the respective integrity of the legal citizenship possessed by their children. As a result of this process, American deportation policy is faced with further–albeit ambiguous–difficulty; issues that surround interpersonal relationships and compassion cannot possibly be relayed by statistics alone.
For example, the trauma that may be potentially endured on the part of a child separated from his or her parents cannot be ranked and filed, let alone expressed. Furthermore, statistics related to the number of parents who have chosen to leave their children behind have never been collected. This problem stems from a black and white deportation policy that fails to take into account the underlying effect of deporting certain individuals–effects that transcend numbers and percentages.
Yet, many people argue that despite the humane implications of deportation, if illegal immigrants decide to leave their children in America–which it is assumed many do to with the hopes of providing their naturalized children with a bright future–the tax-payers will wind up footing the bill for the services required to provide for those children, regardless of legal or illegal citizenship.
Lawmakers have claimed that the number of children affected by the deportation of their parents could be much higher than the estimated 110,000. Some argue that instead of deporting the parents of children with legal citizenship,many of whom present no concerns of national security, plead for the creation of a new leniency clause for the aforementioned situation. Deportation law tends to lump everyone into two specific categories, therefore lacking the necessary nuances required to deal with these multifaceted issues.
The potentially-devastating fiscal burden that would face the United states, as a result of granting these families residency, fuses emotions with economics–a forum which does not allow for any effective fashion of discourse. Still, many argue that regardless of the deportation of the parents of children with legal citizenship, not only funding those children, but also allowing them to gain residency would not only increase tax revenue, but grant them the ability to find gainful employment and provide for their children.