What Happens to Children When a Parent Gets Deported?

In recent weeks, we’ve noted studies that show lower education levels and higher stress levels for the children of undocumented immigrants. This Huffington Post column points out one of the possible reasons behind those hurdles: a record number of deportations by the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). According to statistics released this week, 396,906 immigrants were deported in the past year.

In the Huffington Post column, Joshua Hoyt, the director of  the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, posits that the deportations are not only affecting those sent back to their home countries, but also the children who may be left behind:

“What does this very large number of 396,906 mean for families and U.S. citizen children? Let us assume that at least two-thirds of the deportees are married, with an average of 2.5 children. Thus, from the perspective of ICIRR, the impact of this year’s accomplishments by ICE is that 654,895 children — most of them U.S. citizens — have lost a parent during just the past year due to deportation.”

Even if Hoyt’s contention is way off numerically, it still raises the question of what happens to children whose parents are deported? What effect does such a family rupture have on their school performance, behavior, and chances of going on to college? Are school counselors and teachers creating mechanisms to deal with children in that situation?

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