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Immigration Law

The True Costs of Deportation: Julia Preston

Julia Preston, The Marshall Project, June 22, 2020

"... Across the country, hundreds of thousands of American families are coping with anguish compounded by steep financial decline after a spouse’s or parent’s deportation, a more enduring form of family separation than President Trump’s policy that took children from parents at the border.

Trump has broadened the targets of deportation to include many immigrants with no serious criminal records. While the benefits to communities from these removals are unclear, the costs—to devastated American families and to the public purse—are coming into focus. The hardships for the families have only deepened with the economic strains of the coronavirus.

A new Marshall Project analysis with the Center for Migration Studies found that just under 6.1 million American citizen children live in households with at least one undocumented family member vulnerable to deportation—and household incomes drop by nearly half after deportation.

About 331,900 American children have a parent who has legal protection under DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program that shields immigrants who came here as children. After the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Trump’s cancellation of the DACA program was unlawful, those families still have protection from deportation. But the court’s decision allows the president to try to cancel the program again. The debate cast light on the larger population of 10.7 million undocumented immigrants who have made lives in the country, raising pressure on Congress to open a path to permanent legal status for all of them.

We examined the impact of the wrenching losses after deportation and the potential costs to American taxpayers of expelling immigrants who are parents or spouses of citizens.

After an immigrant breadwinner is gone, many families that once were self-sufficient must rely on social welfare programs to survive. With the trauma of a banished parent, some children fail in schools or require expensive medical and mental health care. As family savings are depleted, American children struggle financially to stay in school or attend college.

Three families in northeastern Ohio, a region where Trump’s deportations have taken a heavy toll, show the high price of these expulsions. ..."