UC Davis News & Information :: New Study: 88,000 U.S. Citizen Children Lost Parent to Deportation
The United States government deported the lawful immigrant parents of nearly 88,000 citizen children between 1997 and 2007, most for relatively minor crimes, according to a new report released today by the University of California, Davis, and University of California, Berkeley, law schools. The deportations often resulted in psychological harm, behavioral changes and problems in school for the children left behind.
The report, "In the Child’s Best Interest?" is based on analysis of data provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, interviews with affected families and comparisons of U.S. and international human rights standards. The study was a joint project of the Immigration Law Clinic at the UC Davis School of Law, and the International Human Rights Law Clinic and the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity at the UC Berkeley School of Law. It is available on the Web at http://www.law.ucdavis.edu/news/images/childsbestinterest.pdf.
Drastic revisions to U.S. immigration laws in 1996 led to large numbers of deported lawful permanent residents (green card holders), who now make up nearly 10 percent of immigrants deported from the U.S., according to the report. More than 68 percent of the deported green card holders were deported for minor crimes, including driving under the influence, simple assault and nonviolent drug offenses, it found.
"It is often the children in these families who suffer the most," said Raha Jorjani, a clinical professor of law at UC Davis and supervising attorney for the UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic. "This nation should take into consideration the impact on families of uprooting individuals with such strong ties to the U.S.”
Current immigration laws severely restrict the ability of judges to consider the impact of deportation on children, the report notes. The authors recommend restoring judicial discretion in all cases involving the deportation of lawful permanent residents with U.S. citizen children.