Policymakers limit yearly quotas, resulting in a long waiting list of immigrants outside or within America but having no status. Moreover, policy changes impact a cumulative sum of undocumented migrants and mixed-status household units in the USA. Various policies and implementations enable prolonged instances of family separation through travel restrictions and practical constraints to the migration process. Moreover, a continuation of aggressive regulations and law practices undermine family unity that consists of both documented and undocumented members. Therefore, deportation is a fear that many immigrants experience, resulting in severe psychological distress and further leaving American-born children of undocumented parents without economic, social, or civil support.
Mr. Lopez’s family represents both undocumented and mixed-status members. After immigration to America, the children gradually began experiencing psychological issues due to having difficulty adjusting. The eldest son is slowly deteriorating in school and social life, and he has become over-protective of his little sister, Gabriela. The social impacts of immigration are substantial, and policymakers should not overlook these issues. Deportation of family members causes separation and trauma for the documented and undocumented households (Gubernskaya & Dreby, 2017). They face adverse economic and emotional difficulties following a parents’ deportation or imprisonment. For instance, Mrs. Lopez’s family was deported six months ago to Mexico, leaving her with no close extended family. This situation upsets and builds fear in the family unit as they face the risk of separation and the strenuous economic and relationship problems they are already experiencing.
Dreby (2015) illustrates that relationship tension is most likely to arise between fathers and children as male immigrants face a higher risk of deportation than mothers. Additionally, immigrants children are at substantial risk of developing short-term and long-term psychological effects, especially when the security of their family set-up is vulnerable. While some mental health signs reduce over time, scholars determine behaviors such as anger, withdrawal, and aggressiveness persevere. Also, children demonstrate high-stress levels after their parents deport, whether they remain in America or return to Mexico with their parents. Furthermore, the fear of deportability has severe repercussions on family units. For example, in the case of Mr. Lopez’s family consists of undocumented and mixed-status family members. It builds tension among children because they understand that family security is dwindling (Gubernskaya & Dreby, 2017). Tomas has grown aggressive and angry, while David daydreams and cannot focus on his studies. Gabriela is said to take no interest in studies or life goals. These behaviors evidence that young children in Latino households living in the USA experience fears of separation even though they still live with their parents.
Immigrants are decreasingly utilizing social initiatives such as Medicaid and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (SSNP-WIC) because of deportation risk (Vargas, 2015). Policies that maintain on implementation and illegalization of unsanctioned migration highly destabilize the well-being of American citizens, legal immigrants, and illegal migrants. The absence of legal conformity within households has adverse impacts often ignored by American policymakers. US citizens wedded to undocumented migrants lack the privilege to enjoy their citizenship advantages, like the freedom to see a public hospital or therapist (Gubernskaya & Dreby, 2017). In some cases, they suffer lengthy separation from their spouses, and in other cases, they become immigrants themselves.
Moreover, US citizen children in mixed-status households also face various developmental encounters. For instance, Mr. Lopez’s lastborn, David, began experiencing difficulties due to family tensions. In school, the teacher reports he daydreams and lacks focus in-class activities, and at home, the parents observe that he creates jokes that are no longer amusing. David appears to have difficulties adjusting to family changes. Typically, undocumented parents have lower-incomes, poor working and living situations, and high poverty levels (Gubernskaya & Dreby, 2017). Mr. Lopez does agricultural work, and his wife is an elementary school teacher. This homestead can only afford the basics and aid from various programs such as education benefits. Thus, these economic, social, and personal changes can confuse children and further affect their ability to cope and stabilize mentally.
Considering the advantages of close family proximity in the immigration setting and the adverse effects of family separation, policy changes and enhanced practices are essential to reaffirm family togetherness. There is a need to end the prolonged separation of mixed-status families. Annual separation of a child from their parent is a detriment to their well-being and mental health, which can persist regardless of eventual family reuniting. Moreover, policy reforms are important to enabling travel for family members on a lengthy waiting list to acquire or adapt to Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR). The USA can reform by processing a temporary visa for this immigrant group or permitting prospective migrants’ rights to extend to visitors. This process facilitates family closeness and quickens subsequent immigration incorporation.
Consequently, policymakers can reduce the risk that prospective immigrants extend their visas by ensuring that violating temporary permits will limit their chances of getting permanent visas (Gubernskaya & Dreby, 2017). Given the increase in mental and economic effects of enforcement on immigrants, policy reforms allow for revision on difficulties in permitting waivers to deportation requirements. Policymakers should pave the way for parents of American citizen children to acquire legal documentation because deportation puts children at health and economic risk. Hence, policy reforms are essential to immigrants because they positively affect eligibility and protect family unity and well-being.
Deportation is a fear that many immigrants experience, resulting in serious psychological distress and further leaving American-born children of undocumented parents without economic, social, or civil support. Studies show that positive socioeconomic results occur when policymakers focus on the well-being of family unity. Families are critical to the economic safety net and help set up businesses in America. Therefore, policy reforms should seek to improve family closeness and deprioritize separation through deporting family members.
Dreby, J. (2015). Everyday illegal. University of California Press.
Gubernskaya, Z., & Dreby, J. (2017). US immigration policy and the case for family unity. Journal on Migration and Human Security, 5(2), 417-430.
Vargas, E. D. (2015). Immigration enforcement and mixed-status families: The effects of risk of deportation on Medicaid use. Children and youth services review, 57, 83-89.