A new featured story from The Marshall Project profiles three families in northeast Ohio who have faced “financial ruin, mental health crises—and even death” after one member of each family was deported. Using extensive analysis of census data from the Center for Migration of New York (CMS), the feature concludes that about 909,000 mixed-status families, those with undocumented and US citizen members, would face financial hardship and risk falling into poverty if their undocumented breadwinners were deported.
The Trump administration has failed to set meaningful immigration enforcement priorities, leading Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to deport many people without criminal records or with convictions for only minor infractions. Its overly-broad priorities harm families and communities and increase reliance on public assistance because contributing family members are separated from and can no longer support their families. A 2017 paper from CMS, found that a mass deportation program would significantly reduce household income for mixed-status families, jeopardize the US housing market, and create a financial gap in the cost of raising children left behind of at least $118 billion.
Deportations can sap the life from vibrant communities — including Church communities. In late 2017, the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), CMS, and the Office of Justice and Ecology of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States initiated the CRISIS Study (Catholic Removal Impact Survey in Society). The study included surveys of 133 deportees from the United States at KBI’s migrant shelter in Nogales and interviews with families and community members of deportees. In an interview for the project, a parish staff person shared that:
The names of the folks who have been deported always come up. It’s always a lament that it’s not the same without them here. We are talking about folks who have been here for and part of our community for 10, 15, 20 years. They are deeply embedded in our community, and so when they are ripped from us, that hurts not only the one who is deported or their immediate family, but it’s all of us. It’s our whole parish community that hurts.
However, deportees and their families suffer the most. The CRISIS study found that 78 percent of survey respondents had US citizen children and that most had a range of close family members who depended on them financially prior to their deportation, including their mothers (72 percent), fathers (57 percent), and siblings (26 percent). After her husband was deported, Seleste Hernandez, who was profiled in The Marshall project’s story, had no one to stay with her severely disabled son when she went to work. Thus, her divided family lost two incomes due to her husband’s deportation. His deportation, she said, has brought “‘unnecessary’” suffering and worry to her family. She asks: “‘Is the country a safer place?’”
July 23, 2020