Workplace Immigration Raids Affect Hispanic Children’s Mental Health, Report Finds
Children of parents arrested in workplace immigration raids face mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, separation anxiety and depression, according to a report released on Wednesday and commissioned by the National Council of La Raza, the AP/Google.com reports.
The report, conducted by the Urban Institute, analyzed the effects of recent workplace raids in Greeley, Colo.; Grand Island, Neb.; and New Bedford, Mass. During those raids, officials arrested 900 suspected undocumented immigrants, and as a result, 500 children unexpectedly lost communication with one or both parents (Garcia, AP/Google.com, 10/31). Most of the children were ages 10 or younger, and two-thirds of the children were U.S. citizens, according to the report (Graham, Tulsa World, 11/1). An estimated 3.1 million children who are U.S. citizens are living with at least one undocumented immigrant parent, according to 2006 Pew Hispanic Center data.
According to the report, the situation left some children with unstable supervision and caused stress and emotional trauma. The report found that most of the children affected had at least one parent to care for them, but that parent often was unable to make decisions and have access to his or her partner's money (AP/Google.com, 10/31). In addition, the parent and or family member caring for the children often was reluctant to seek help out of fear of being deported themselves, the report said. Local systems sometimes end up caring for children separated from an undocumented immigrant parent, according to the report.
"There are consequences for children, and most of them are U.S. citizens," Rosa Maria Castaneda, research associate at the institute, said, adding, "That should be part of the consideration in the U.S. immigration enforcement efforts. The children are lost in the process. The children's needs should be considered and weighed." She added, "I cannot see how it wouldn't create a crisis" (Tulsa World, 11/1).
Tim Counts, spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the agency makes an extra effort to ensure that children of suspects in raids are cared for, noting that in the wake of the raids in Greeley, about 100 people were released for humanitarian reasons to care for children. He added that the report "takes the bizarre position that ICE is somehow responsible for family disruption caused by parents who make poor decisions. Law enforcement agencies across the nation arrest people who have children every day. Everyone understands that parents are responsible for their actions and the resulting impact on their families" (AP/Google.com, 10/31).
The report is available online.