• June 2010
  • Vol. 11, No. 5

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Impact of Immigration Enforcement on the Welfare of Children

An estimated 73 percent of the children of unauthorized immigrants are born in the United States and therefore are U.S. citizens. When the parents of these children are arrested because of their immigration status, the children are at high risk of prolonged separation from their families, and many end up in long-term foster care.

A new report from First Focus, The Impact of Immigration Enforcement on Child Welfare, looks at the impact on children and families involved in immigration cases. Authors Wendy Cervantes and Yali Lincroft discuss the need for Federal, State, and local agencies to develop more humane protocols when conducting enforcement actions in order to minimize children's trauma when a parent is detained. They also note that a parent who has been detained as an undocumented alien is often hindered in meeting child welfare case plan requirements. The authors suggest that better communication and coordination between law enforcement and child welfare systems is needed.

The report includes key provisions of humanitarian guidelines developed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that consider the needs of children during worksite immigration enforcement; relevant Federal legislation; and policy recommendations for ICE, immigration court, and child welfare.

The report is available on the First Focus website:


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