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June 2013Vol. 14, No. 5The Effect of Deportation on Mexican Families

Of the record number of foreign-born persons who have been deported from the United States in recent years, it is estimated that more than 100,000 of them are the parents of U.S.-born children. A high percentage of the persons who are detained and deported are from Mexico, making the impact on this population especially burdensome. 

In a recent article published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, author Joanna Dreby, a researcher at the University at Albany, State University of New York, discusses the impact that immigration enforcement policies have had on Mexican families and, in particular, the effect on the children in those families. Using examples from interviews conducted with 91 parents and 110 children in 80 households in Ohio and New Jersey, the author proposes a deportation pyramid as a framework for understanding the burden of deportation on children.

At the top of the pyramid are instances in which a deportation leaves the child without a resident parent, and the child enters the U.S. foster care system with no hope of reunification. At the next level, the deportation of one parent leaves the child either temporarily or permanently in a single-parent household and struggling to maintain financial stability. The author also discusses in detail the large number of children at the bottom of the pyramid, those who may never have been directly affected by immigration enforcement, but face insecurity about their legal status and the social stigma of being an immigrant.

"The Burden of Deportation on Children in Mexican Immigrant Families," by Joanna Dreby, Journal of Marriage and Family, 74(4), 2012, is available for purchase: