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CLALS | Deportation & Health of U.S. Citizen Children

Child holding a sign in protest against deportation policies

Photo by cfpereda via Flickr

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). (Learn more)

Related Multimedia Projects

From the Fields: An American Journey

AU School of Communication Professor Carolyn Brown has produced and directed a 30-minute documentary aimed at deconstructing popular Latino stereotypes. Distributed nationwide to NBC affiliates in the fall of 2012, From the Fields: An American Journey follows the life of Damian Trujillo, from farmworker in the Salinas Valley to San Jose University where Damian worked at the college radio station and eventually to the NBC newsroom. The film goes beyond the often hateful rhetoric surrounding the immigration debate and into a deeper exploration of what it means to work, support a family, and contribute to American society. (Learn more)

The Salinas Project: Dreams and Migration, Life and Stories From Inside an Immigrant Community

About one hour south of the wealthy Silicon Valley sits the agricultural, immigrant town of Salinas. On the east side of Salinas, in a neighborhood known as Alisal, deplorable housing conditions and gang violence are a part of daily life. But there are big changes happening in the community and a sense of renewal. This documentary will profile several children of migrant farm workers living in the Salinas Valley, specifically in Alisal. Without resources, and sometimes undocumented, their future is often uncertain, but their hope and resilience are abundant. This film will help viewers understand this immigrant community that is often misrepresented in the media. Furthermore, the film will bring to light the systemic causes of the problems in East Salinas and will highlight the successes and hopes of this community, despite adversity. (Learn more)

Voices from the Border

More than eleven million undocumented immigrants live in the United States, three times as many as in 1990. The stories of the 11.8 million people who live in the border region and the hundreds of thousands who pass through or come to settle there each year often go unheard. Voices From the Border is a video-based multimedia web project that would start by profiling the Arizona border town of Naco, conducting video interviews and taking still pictures to create a web-based multimedia archive of oral histories to give voice to the individuals from the border region. Subsequent phases of the project would expand to profile Nogales, Arizona and Mexico and other border cities in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. (Learn more)

Lost in Detention

As part of the “Lost in Detention” project coordinated by the AU Investigative Reporting Workshop and PBS Frontline, Professors Carolyn Brown and Larry Engel produced seven short videos, investigating immigrant life at the US-Mexico border in Arizona. In addition to the videos, Carolyn Brown authored an article, Saving Lives on the Border, exploring the role of humanitarian organizations on the border and a multimedia Reporter's Notebook on the Minutemen.