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American Psychological Association Report: Consequences of Deportation Are Severe, Sometimes Fatal

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The consequences of deportation are often severe, sometimes fatal, extend beyond the person deported, and often affects U.S. citizens, according to a new report from the American Psychological Association. They range from physical to economic to psychological. And unfortunately, the Trump Administration has been stepping up deportations as much as possible.

The Administration has separated thousands of asylum-seeking families at the border in an attempt to deter future immigration. They have worked to rewrite the standards for gaining asylum.  They have dramatically increased immigration raids on workplaces and targeted cities with policies friendly to immigrants. The number of undocumented immigrants arrested without a criminal record under the Trump Administration has tripled, and many of the immigrants ICE arrests only have immigration violations on their records. The Administration has systematically gutted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and attempted to remove DACA for Dreamers. All of these changes will likely extend the consequences of deportation to more immigrants, their families, and their communities.

A division of the American Psychological Association released a report this year on the effects of deportation and forced separation. Their report cites the devastating consequences for those deported as well as the families and communities left behind.

As they write:

Most people who are deported have lived in the country for over a decade and many are parents or caregivers of US citizens. Approximately, 5.9 million US citizen children have at least one caregiver who does not have authorization to reside in the United States.

The report found that the effects of deportation on children to be uniquely harsh. A child separated from “a parent due to deportation is associated with economic hardship, housing instability, and food insecurity,” the report notes. “Children demonstrate numerous emotional and behavioral challenges, such as eating and sleeping changes, anxiety, sadness, anger, and withdrawal.” They also found that regardless of their status, immigrant “children living in communities where immigration raids have taken place feel abandoned, isolated, fearful, traumatized, and depressed.” Furthermore, they found that even after the child is reunited with their family, the consequences may continue to linger.  

For immigrants facing deportation, the consequences can often be dire. From the report:

Many of those deported are forced to return to dangerous, turbulent environments, and deportations have resulted in kidnapping, torture, rape,and murder … 79% of families screened in family detention centers have a “credible fear” of persecution if they returned to the countries from which they migrated.

Border communities “regardless of first-hand experience” with deportation also suffer consequences. “Following immigration raids and deportations, community members are often more fearful and mistrustful of public institutions, less likely to participate in churches, schools, health clinics, cultural activities, and social services, and more reluctant to report crime to the police,” the report says. The report also finds that anxiety and psychological stress increase following an immigration raid. There are also negative consequences on the economy when ICE raids target a community.

You can find personal stories from those who have suffered these consequences first-hand here and here.

The consequences of deportation are real, devastating, long-lasting, and can be fatal. A deportation and its consequences is not contained to individuals; instead, they ripple out, often hurting children and U.S. citizens. When deportation is proposed as an immigration solution, the full weight of its consequences should be taken into account. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has shown no interest in these consequences, and continues to push for more deportations and more draconian anti-immigrant policies every day.