What Kids Face When Their Parents Are Deported Will Tear Your Heart Apart

A look at how deportation affects American kids.

The pejorative phrase "anchor baby" gets thrown around a lot when discussing immigration. Presidential candidate Jeb Bush has used the term to describe the children of undocumented immigrants supposedly have in order to stay in the United States, and Donald Trump has vowed to deport all undocumented immigrants if elected.

But deportations don't occur in a vacuum, even if someone widens the scope to the family involved. The Migration Policy Institute and the Urban Institute recently released a report based on interviews with detained immigrant parents, social service organizations, immigration layers, and federal officials. In it, they explore the impact deportations have on the children who are left behind.

Between 2003 and 2013, the US deported 3.7 million immigrants, 90 percent of whom were from Mexico or Central America. An estimated 20-25 percent of these deportees left behind US-born children. Here are some of the ways these deportations impact the children and communities undocumented immigrants are forced to leave behind.


1. Children display emotional and behavioral changes.

Part of the emotional fallout is linked to the stress placed on their guardians, especially if they remain with the other parent. Remaining guardians report high depression rates, which impacts children's cognitive development

2. They face significant financial repercussions.

The majority of deported immigrants are men, meaning kids who lose parents to deportation usually lose their fathers. This often means the loss of the breadwinner, on top of whatever legal expenses the family faces. 

3. They have a harder time accessing social services.

The report points out that while immigrants have a harder time accessing social services because of language and informational barriers, American children of undocumented immigrant parents face unique obstacles. Children who would be eligible to government programs like Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) are less likely to get them if their guardians are afraid to apply and face government officials.


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