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Mothers and children march against deportation at the White House

Since the unveiling of the Secure Communities program under the Bush administration, the rate of deportations has increased at a staggering pace, reaching nearly 410,000 in 2012. Accounting for 97 percent of all deportations, Latino communities have been disproportionately affected by this steady increase in removals. Between July 2010 and September 2012, an estimated 205,000 parents of U.S. citizen children were deported. To date, virtually no research exists on the consequences of these immigration enforcement policies, which impact U.S. citizen youth forcibly separated from their parents and the broader community where they live. In an effort to fill this gap, CLALS partnered with American University's Center on Health, Risk, and Society (CHRS) to develop a major research initiative to explore the health and psychosocial implications of deportation policies. The effort aimed to both document the health impact of mass deportations and to inform strategies to address the plight of Latino households and communities affected by the phenomenon.

In the News

  • An April 23, 2014 post on the AULA Blog titled, "Obama's Deportation Debacle: Time for Executive Action," examines how the Obama administration's plan to use record deportation numbers as leverage in Congressional debates around immigration reform has backfired politically.
  • A March 3, 2014 post on the AULA Blog titled, "The U.S. Immigration Debate: Legalization or Citizenship," discusses whether House Republicans will move forward on reform.
  • A January 16, 2013 post on the AULA Blog titled, "Turning the Tide on Deportations?," analyzes the most recent deportation statistics released by the Obama administration.
  • A June 13, 2013 post on the AULA Blog titled, "Righting a Wrong: Family Reunification and Immigration Reform," discusses a contested provision in the immigration reform bill that would allow for non-criminal deportees to return to the U.S.
  • The April 26, 2013 episode of Latin Pulse focuses on one of the unintended consequences of immigration enforcement policies in the U.S.-the separation of U.S. citizen children from their deported parents. CLALS Director Eric Hershberg discusses a proposed research project examining the impacts of parental deportation on U.S. citizen youth of Salvadoran origin.
  • In an interview broadcast by Univisión, CLALS Director Eric Hershberg shed light on the new Obama administration policy of "deferred action" and raises the important issue of U.S. citizen children who have lost family members due to deportation. (video and report no longer available).
  • In response to a timely article by the New York Times depicting the plight of U.S. citizen children relocated to Mexico following the deportation of a parent, CLALS Director Eric Hershberg submitted a letter to the editor calling attention to the substantial number of children of deportees who remain in the U.S. Read the published letter
  • A July 19, 2012 post on the AULA Blog titled, "The Consequences of Deferring 'Deferred Action,'" discusses the implications of the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.


Lecture: "Effects of Deportation on Children in Mexican Immigrant Families"

On December 5, 2012, Joanna Dreby, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University at Albany-SUNY, offered a lecture titled, "The Rippling Effects of Deportations on Children in Mexican Immigrant Families." The talk was delivered as part of the Center on Health, Risk, and Society's Seminar Series and in conjunction with the CLALS initiative on Deportation and the Health of U.S. Latino Communities.

Conference on Community Disruption in D.C.

On September 13-14, 2012, the AU Center on Health, Risk, and Society (CHRS) hosted a conference focusing on three specific processes of community disruption particularly relevant to health in D.C.: incarceration and re-entry, neighborhood change and gentrification, and immigration and deportation. The conference was cosponsored by CLALS and the District of Columbia Developmental Center for AIDS Research (DC D-CFAR).


  • Fernanda Trotta Bianchi, PhD: Senior Research Scientist, Department of Psychology, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, The George Washington University 


  • Julia Gómez-Dickson, PhD: Professor, Center for AIDS Intervention Research, Medical College of Wisconsin 

“Left Behind: The Effects of Immigration on Salvadoran Children, Families and Communities”

Dr. Gómez-Dickson presented research exploring the macro- and micro-social contexts of crack use and HIV risk in Salvadoran communities affected both by mass emigration to the U.S. and the deportation of immigrants back to El Salvador. Her research utilizes qualitative methods to evaluate network-based HIV prevention interventions for drug users and at-risk women. 

  • Victoria Ojeda, MPH, PhD: Assistant Professor, Division of Global Public Health, Department of Medicine, University of California at San Diego

"Deportation Experiences of Mexican Sex Workers and Drug Users and Implications for U.S.-Based HIV and Drug Use Research"

Using in-depth interviews conducted in Tijuana with 20 male clients of female sex workers (FSWs) recently deported from the U.S., Ojeda's research explores the relationship between deportation and HIV vulnerability. Clients perceived deportation as resulting in social isolation and economic dislocation, which were linked to HIV through drug abuse and sex with FSWs.

  • Luis H. Zayas, PhD: Dean of the School of Social Work and Centennial Professor in Leadership at The University of Texas at Austin

“From Case to Cause: Protecting Citizen-Children through Practice, Research, and Advocacy”

Dr. Zayas traced how his advocacy work on behalf of U.S. citizen children who have experienced the deportation of a parent has evolved into an exploratory study, funded by NICHD, on the effects of immigration enforcement policies on the mental and psychosocial functioning of young Americans.


  • Patricia Foxen, PhD: Deputy Director of Research, National Council of La Raza
  • Jayesh Rathod, JD: Associate Professor of Law, Washington College of Law, American University