People usually immigrate for a number of different reasons. However, the most common reason is usually search for peace and better economic activities. It is with this regards that developed countries usually record the highest numbers of immigrants. For the United States (US), the number of immigration has always been increasing at an exponential rate ever since the conclusion of the Second World War (Dreby 245). The growing rate of immigration has contributed significantly to the growing size of the US population. It is important to note that immigration is usually a serious concern for governments because governments usually have to spend more to cater for the needs of its citizens as well as that of the immigrants, this coupled with the growing cases of terrorism has resulted in countries such as the US adopting immigration policies that are more stringent (Dreby 245). That is why the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the US has been deporting more and more immigrants each year (Enchautegui and Menjívar 35).
It is reported that by 2013 there were over 4.5 million U.S. citizen children who have at least one undocumented parent (Dreby 245). Between the years of 2009 and 2013, more than 4 million illegal immigrants were deported from the US and it is believed that about 2 million of them were parents to US citizen children (Dreby 246). From this data alone, it is evident that most of the remaining family members of people who are deported are children, and that the initial impact of the deportation is separation. In general deportation of illegal family members who live behind family members who are living legally in the country has several impacts, but none is positive.
Deportation of family member who were undocumented and leave behind family members with legal status usually breaks down the family structure (Enchautegui and Menjívar 37). The family structure is the basic unit within the community. It is from families that individuals accrue values and principles and also gain a sense of belonging. Hence, the breakdown of this structure results in the remaining family members feeling vulnerable (Zayas, Aguilar-Gaxiola and Yoon 3215). The family members are separated by deportation and the remaining family members end up worrying about what happened or is happening to their loved ones, and also what will happen to them (Nazarian 3). As a result of the deportation, some children are left without a parent or parents, while married couples are forcefully separated. This can have profound and devastating psychological impacts on the remaining spouse and or children. This is especially because communication between the deported individuals and the remaining family members is usually restricted, and chances that they will ever reunite are very limited (Nazarian 3).
Some children whose parent(s) have been deported get to develop intrinsic fear. This is because they consider that if their parent(s) who are older than them, and are supposed to accord them with security and protection are not able to do so, then they themselves are vulnerable (Nazarian 8). Under most circumstances, when both parents have been deported, children are usually taken to foster homes rather than having them live with any of their relatives, if any exist (Zayas, Aguilar-Gaxiola and Yoon 3218). The reason behind this is that their relatives may also be at risk of being deported. As a result, the concept of family structure and value for the children is destroyed (Nazarian 8). This is especially so if the children are over 5 years old when the deportation takes place (Nazarian 11).
In line with the above perspectives, the feelings resulting from deportation usually gets to impact on the ego and self worth of children whose parents have been deported (Enchautegui and Menjívar 44). They grow up feeling inferior to the dominant race in the society and this robs them of self confidence thus limiting their ability to achieve their full potential. From a different perspective, the deportation usually results in some of the remaining family members experiencing reduced levels of efficiency in either their work setting or at school (Enchautegui and Menjívar 33). This is because just like loss through death, the remaining family members usually feel that a part of them has been taken away from them, and this, impacts on their mental wellbeing (Zayas, Aguilar-Gaxiola and Yoon 3214). This shows that deportation affects the performance of remaining family members.
Deportations of family members also directly result in economic hardship on remaining family members (Zayas, Aguilar-Gaxiola and Yoon 3219). For instance, when one parent has been deported, and the other has not, the remaining parent faces increased pressures of providing for the family. Already, people who are deported exist in the ethnic minorities in the US and they face considerable social and economic restrictions (Dreby 248). Deporting one of them only compounds the problem for the remaining family members. As a result, the deportation increases the chances of the remaining family members experiencing cyclic poverty due to the lack of the ability to afford basic needs and wants including access to quality education (Nazarian 4).
Family members living legally within the United States who have had a member or members of their family deported usually experience emotional distress. When the members left behind are children, the emotional hardship usually becomes compounded (Enchautegui and Menjívar 56). This is because; they end up in foster care where they get to live with families belonging to the dominant race within the US. As a result, many of the children whose family members have been deported usually experience developmental problems. The inability to communicate with their deported parents results in them becoming emotionally and mentally withdrawn hence they develop learning disabilities (Enchautegui and Menjívar 49). Similar attributes are usually recorded in spouses whose partners have been deported. Such partners who remain usually develop depression and social isolation (Enchautegui and Menjívar 50). In the long run, the emotional distress experienced by individuals whose family members have been deported commonly results in the remaining individuals experiencing reduced cognitive abilities and negative and or erratic behavioral outcomes (Zayas, Aguilar-Gaxiola and Yoon 3221).
Another impact of deportation on remaining family members is that it increases racism. This is because when illegal aliens are deported, their families and members of their ethnic background begin to feel as if they are not accepted members of the larger society and they do not deserve to be (Zayas, Aguilar-Gaxiola and Yoon 3220). For the family members such feelings are compounded. They feel as outcasts who do not belong where they are, even if they have attained legal status (Dreby 250). They also develop concern that people from within the community where they belong will begin doubting their status and they will start treating them differently; even when this is not the case.
Families whose members have been deported get to loose their sense of belonging and pride in their ethnic or racial background (Nazarian 11). Many of the remaining family members feel ashamed and castigated due to their ethnical heritage and this has profound impact on how they socialize with others as well as their mental state (Nazarian 12). For some, they begin disassociating themselves with their cultural identity and heritage, while for others; feelings of resentment and hate develop for the dominant race or ethnicity in the region (Nazarian 9). Based on all the above discussed findings, it is evident that deportation only results in negative outcomes on remaining family members who have legal status, and are mostly children.
- Dreby, Joanna. “U.S. immigration policy and family separation: The consequences for children’s well-being.” In Social Science & Medicine 132 (2015): 245-251. Peer Reviewed Journal.
- Enchautegui, María E and Cecilia Menjívar. “Paradoxes of Family Immigration Policy: Separation, Reorganization, and Reunification of Families under Current Immigration Laws. .” Law & Policy. Vol. 37 Issue 1/2 (2015): p32-60. Peer Reviewed Journal.
- Nazarian, Gaiane. “SEPARATION DUE TO DEPORTATION: PSYCHOLOGICAL, EMOTIONAL, AND ECONOMIC AFFECT ON CHILDREN OF DEPORTED PARENTS.” Projects, and Dissertations. Paper 48 (2014). Electronic Theses.
- Zayas, Luis, et al. “The Distress of Citizen-Children with Detained and Deported Parents.” Journal of Child & Family Studies. Vol. 24 Issue 11 (2015): p3213-3223. Peer Reviewed Journal .