Report Examines Impact of Immigration Policies on Children of Immigrants

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Washington, D.C., February 2, 2010 — The United States is engaged in an intense debate about immigration policy, particularly with regard to unauthorized immigrants. Debates rage about the economic contributions of immigrants to the U.S. economy, job competition, tax payments and fiscal costs, and the integration of immigrants in communities and the larger society. Largely absent from the discussion are the children of immigrants.  

A new report published by the Urban Institute titled Facing Our Future Children in the Aftermath of Immigration Enforcement and supported in part by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York, examines the consequences of parental arrest, detention, and deportation on 190 children in 85 families in six locations across the country. Building on the Urban Institute’s 2007 report Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America’s Children, the current study documents the effects on these children after their parents were arrested in worksite raids, raids on their homes, or operations by local police officers. The authors researched impacts on children in the days and weeks after parental arrests, in the intermediate and long term while parents were detained or contested their deportation, and in some cases, after parents were deported.

Today there are an estimated 5.5 million children with unauthorized immigrant parents, about three-quarters of whom are U.S.-born citizens. The nation builds its own future by investing in the futures of children, spending billions of dollars annually on education and health care, preventing abuse and neglect, and supporting when necessary their basic needs for housing and food. Yet, unlike other children in this country, the children of unauthorized immigrants live with the fear that their parents might be arrested, detained, or deported. The federal government spends billions each year to arrest, detain, and deport immigrants, many of whom are parents. By one estimate, in the last 10 years, over 100,000 immigrant parents of U.S. citizen children have been deported from the United States.

The Urban Institute is supported by Carnegie Corporation of New York as part of the foundation's effort to build pathways to citizenship through immigrant civic integration.