Poorer child health
Children of undocumented immigrants will continue to suffer from mental health issues, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, lower use of health care than children of documented immigrants and reduced household income. An estimated 43,000 U.S.-citizen children will experience a decline in their health status after the change in household income associated with the absence of a primary earner. click here to see calculation
Poorer child behavioral outcomes
Children of undocumented immigrants will suffer behavioral problems, such as aggression, anxiety and withdrawal, which can lead to poor school performance and poor development. Approximately 100,000 U.S.-citizen children will show signs of withdrawal after a parent’s arrest. click here to see calculation
Poorer child educational outcomes
U.S.-citizen children who live in families under threat of detention or deportation will finish fewer years of school and face challenges focusing on their studies.
Poorer adult health and shorter lifespan
Almost 17,000 more undocumented parents of U.S.-citizen children will consider themselves in poor health because of the loss of income from a deported partner; a factor that is linked to shorter lifespan. Similarly, due to lost income, the estimated 83,000 partners who remain in the U.S. after a primary earner is deported will lose an average of 2.2 years of life – collectively a loss of more than 180,000 years of life. click here to see calculation
Higher rates of poverty
Median household income for undocumented immigrant households overall will drop to an estimated $15,400, putting them below the poverty line. More than 83,000 households will be at risk of poverty. click here to see calculation
Diminished access to food
With the absence of their primary household earner, over 125,000 children will live in a food insufficient household. Without the support of food assistance, these children may experience hunger and malnutrition. click here to see calculation
Focus group discussions with members of immigrant families and a survey of individuals living in mixed-status families supplemented the research. Findings showed that parents were deeply aware of how their legal status, and the threat of detention or deportation, affected their children:
Almost four in 10 children of undocumented parents did not see a doctor in the past year; almost three-fourths of the children of documented parents did. Research shows U.S.-born children of undocumented parents are twice as likely to lack health insurance as children born to citizens.
“Two years ago, Immigration [officials] came to look for someone in our house; someone who did not live [there]…it was very difficult impact that it caused for my children…my youngest son's performance in school suffered…[he became] fearful of everything, when somebody knocked on the door he would react in a very angry, nervous manner… he became constantly nervous, angry, he couldn't fall asleep, irritated…The manner in which Immigration came to my house was very unpleasant. They were using very strong language...One day [the children] will have to forget it, but I think that a lot of time will have to go by...”
Nearly 30 percent of undocumented parents reported that their children were afraid either all or most of the time, much higher than among children of documented parents. Nearly half reported that their child had been anxious, and almost three-fourths of undocumented parents reported that a child had shown symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Undocumented parents also experienced considerable impact on every indicator of mental health due to the threat of detention or deportation: stress, fearfulness, sadness, withdrawal and anger. Seven out of ten also reported driving less and eight out of ten said they were less willing to report a crime.
The cost of current policies also carries a staggering price tag: Last year the U.S. spent more than $1.2 billion to deport parents of U.S.-citizen children. This is money that could instead be spent on improving the health and well-being of families and children.