Across the U.S. Increasing Numbers of Kids Are Taken From Deported Parents and Put Into Foster Care

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If you deport the parents, let them take their kids with them. This may sound like common sense — and research shows that kids do better with their families than in foster care — but increasingly more children from across the United States are being separated from their families because their parents have been deported.

National research, conducted by the Applied Research Center between August 2010 and August 2011, and published on (which is run by the Research Center) in November 2011 shows, for the first time, that the problem is happening widely.

At least 5,100 children whose parents are detained or deported are currently in foster care around the United States. And, in at least 22 states, children in foster care face boundaries to reunification with their detained or deported mothers and fathers.

In the past few years, a growing number of long-time residents with families are being deported while the kids are almost always placed in foster care. According to previously unreleased federal data obtained by the ARC, between January and June of 2011, the United States carried out more than 46,000 deportations of the parents of U.S.-citizen children, and almost one in four people deported in the last year was the mother or father of an American citizen.

The report discusses two explanations as to why this is happening:

  1. Local cops in many states that have signed agreements with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are engaging in immigration enforcement;
  2. A controversial program called Secure Communities allows the ICE access to data on every person booked into a county jail.

The ARC’s research found that children in foster care in areas where officers perform immigration law enforcement functions, were almost 30 percent more likely to have a detained or deported parent than in other counties.

Most countries lack any formal policy for deported parents. In order to tackle this problem, the report says that federal, state and local governments must create explicit policies to protect families from separation.

The Obama administration did say that it plans to overhaul immigration detention practices, but as of August 2011, the ARC found that this promise had not taken effect in any significant way.

The full report lays out policy recommendations at all levels in the United States. The following are its suggestions for state child welfare departments and juvenile dependency courts to follow:

  • State child welfare departments should initiate research to explore the extent to which children in foster care have detained or deported parents.
  • All caseworkers, supervisors, attorneys and judges who practice in dependency court should be mandated to participate in training on immigration law and immigration enforcement policies.
  • All state and/or county child welfare departments should sign agreements with foreign consulates to ensure that as soon as noncitizen parents of foster children are detained, consular
    involvement is commenced.
  • Adopt clear policies ensuring equal treatment of undocumented parents and families in the child welfare system, including clear guidelines on the rights of undocumented parents and extended families to be treated equitably as viable caregivers for children.
  • Create state- or county-level staff positions dedicated to facilitating reunification for families impacted by immigration enforcement.

“At the end of the day, when you have immigration law that’s broken and you have a community of 10 million, 11 million people living and working in the United States illegally, some of these things are going to happen,” Cecilia Munoz, the administration’s top advisor on immigration, said in an interview aired on PBS’ “Frontline” in September.

To complete the study, ARC gathered county-level data from child welfare caseworkers, attorneys and judges in six states, which account for more than half of the non-citizen population in the United States and more than one-third of the children in foster care (Arizona, California, Florida, North Carolina, New York and Texas.) Then ARC visited detention centers, conducted interviews and projected the prevalence of detained and deported parent cases in 14 other similarly situated states, including Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington.

The full report is on the ARC website.


They also released a video about their report:

Image courtesy of Applied Research Center

6 thoughts on “Across the U.S. Increasing Numbers of Kids Are Taken From Deported Parents and Put Into Foster Care

  1. undocumented immigrants = illegle lawbreaking invaders! get it straight! THEY BROKE THE LAWS OF THIS COUNTRY by entering it ILLEGALLY …they should get a free pass? . . .if i break the law i am subject to consequences of breaking it …why should some be EXEMPT?… particularly FOREIGNERS who should be afforded NO legal rights what so ever, i want the same immigration policy that mexico has for emigrating to mexico…have you looked at THOSE LAWS ….probably not

  2. Its funny to me to see all these “foreiners, illegal aliens” sooooo willing go clean up and take care of AMERICAN BABIES I mean ok so their parents do what an AMERICAN CANT DO. WHO CARES ANYMORE..’ OTHER THAN A LAZY PERSON CRYING FOR A JOB THATFEQUIRES AN EDUCATION, AND EFFORT. but since I don’t know any SMART AMERICANS willing to clean their oi wn childs butts. Why not a mexican!

  3. I totally agree with the other comments. No one should be left here when their parents are deported, they should go with the parents. No child of someone here illegally should have the right to stay and we shouldn’t be waiting years to deport those here illegally. The problem is we aren’t enforcing our laws.

  4. Kids should accompany their parents back to their home countries. We should not be separating families.

    I know our immigration laws are broken by many unscrupulous foreigners, but they’ll get the idea once we do a minimal amount of enforcement.

  5. No sympathy here….Its the parents fault who willfaully break many laws that put their children in jeopardy. What kind of parents wouldn’t take their kids with them when deported anyway? Maybe they don’t deserve those children that they intentionally put at risk and traumatize them. So illegals get deported, and once again, legal citizens are stuck paying for their kids.

    • Did you read the news report? People who are being deported are not typically walking around town, packing their bags, and saying good-bye to folks; they are in ICE’s custody. Most of them would love to take their children with them, but their children need passports, plane tickets, and many are of an age that they need to be escorted. People who are detained can’t do any of these things.

      I don’t get where the lack of compassion comes from. Some people have lived here for over a decade, but you have no sympathy for their children who are separated from their parents. It’s like your hatred is so strong that you don’t care who it mows down. We are talking about families, we are talking about children. These kids are US citizens; they are your neighbors and they live down the street. But you have no sympathy. I feel sorry for you.