A new report from the Applied Research Center (ARC) conservatively estimates that there are more than 5,000 children currently living in foster care whose parents have been either detained or deported. To date, there has been no national data available on the numbers of children impacted by the intersection of immigration enforcement and child welfare systems.
"Shattered Families" offers groundbreaking national research on the perilous intersection of immigration enforcement and the child welfare system. Historic levels of detention and deportation, combined with a clear lack of child welfare policies are resulting in the separation of thousands of families across the United States. These families face formidable barriers to reunification, and in many cases will be permanently separated. ARC projected that at least 15,000 more children will face these threats to reunification in the next five years, if the same rate holds true for new cases.
“Immigration enforcement greatly increases the chances that families will never see each other again,” said ARC President Rinku Sen. “Detaining and deporting parents shatters families and endangers the children left behind. It’s unacceptable, un-American, and a clear sign that we need to revisit our immigration policies.”
In fiscal year 2011, the United States deported a record-breaking 397,000 people and detained nearly that many. According to never before released federal data acquired by ARC through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, a growing number of deportees are parents. In the first six months of 2011, the federal government removed more than 46,000 mothers and fathers of U.S.-citizen children.
For the first time, ARC’s “Shattered Families” provides evidence on the scale and scope of this growing national problem. These impacts are not confined to border jurisdictions or states. In fact, ARC identified at least 22 states across the country where children in foster care are separated from their parents because of immigration enforcement.
“Our research found time and again that families are being left out of decision-making when it comes to the care and custody of their children,” said Seth Freed Wessler, author and principal investigator of “Shattered Families.” “As a result, children of detained and deported parents are likely to remain in foster care when they could be with their own family.”
“Shattered Families” analyzes these problems, identifies key barriers, and presents policy recommendations for Department of Homeland Security, various levels of legislature, state child welfare departments, and juvenile dependency courts
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