Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Life Issues > Children > Study finds 5 million children of undocumented immigrants put at-risk of entering child welfare system

Study finds 5 million children of undocumented immigrants put at-risk of entering child welfare system

LatinaLista — One of the major arguments for the immediate necessity of passing comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) is the fact that current policy is separating families. U.S.-born children are left behind when an undocumented parent(s) is/are captured and deported.

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Now, a new report, the first of a series of papers entitled

Caught Between Systems: The Intersection of Immigration and Child Welfare Policies, finds that current apprehension and deportation policies needlessly put children of undocumented parents at risk for entering the child welfare system.


Published by First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, in partnership with the Migration and Child Welfare National Network, the report found:

When a child enters the child welfare system, immigrant parents face huge obstacles in reuniting with the child. For example, if a parent is detained or deported, they cannot take part in child welfare proceedings like family court or case plan requirements, which creates the risk of permanent, unnecessary separation of the child from their parents.

The report makes several recommendations that would bring current immigration enforcement practices in line with more humane treatment of this vulnerable group.

It recommends that authorities allow children to remain with their families and avoid placement in the child welfare system whenever possible.

Authorities should ensure that separated children in the system receive appropriate care, while detained parents are afforded the right to due process.

Allowing immigration judges to weigh the potential harm to a U.S. citizen child should a parent be deported against other factors.

Education and training for immigration and law enforcement officials on how to minimize a child’s trauma during enforcement activities.


A designated liaison officer at the Department of Homeland Security to facilitate cases involving child welfare agencies and detained parents.

Seventy-three percent of the children of undocumented parents are U.S. citizens. For these children, the United States is home and their parents have provided for them since their births.

The current immigration enforcement policies were instituted at a time when most undocumented workers didn’t bring their families with them or stayed long enough to form families.

The current situation of 12 million people who have created families in the United States is a direct result of our paranoid immigration policies that shut the border down preventing these workers from returning home, and breaking the cycle of binational migration that has peacefully existed ever since Mexico and the United States were formed.

Today, there is a new reality that is being created by our current immigration enforcement practices, which this report reveals, is victimizing the least deserving of the population.


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  • Jim B
    April 15, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Why can’t they just go home with the parent and why are they in the welfare system?

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