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ICE is terrorizing our kids: Report shines a light on the impact immigration enforcement is having on children

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There are a lot of compelling reasons to be deeply concerned about ICE – the federal immigration agency that’s acting more and more like a rogue national police force. From the midnight raids to the lack of due process afforded detained individuals to the downright cruel and inhumane destruction of families, ICE procedures seem increasingly akin to the kind one would expect to find in Putin’s Russia.

To make matters even more alarming, a new report from the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center (“The ACE of ICE: How Current Immigration Enforcement and Deportation Hurts Children,” [2]) finds that children may be among ICE’s principal victims. It turns out that children of immigrants (and even non-immigrants) are experiencing increasing rates of trauma as a result of the threat of deportation and family separation as well as the direct experience of raids, deportation proceedings and the disappearance of parents. What’s more that trauma can have profound negative effects on these children for the rest of their lives.

This is from the introduction to the report:

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are experiences in a person’s early years that cast a long shadow over their lives. Trauma from the separation from family and relatives as well as persistent fear and economic hardship are among a list of experiences identified as barriers to children’s healthy development. Research finds that ACEs are linked to risky health behaviors, poor health outcomes and early death as well as a host of economic and social outcomes signaling missed opportunities for individuals and their communities.

An emerging body of research finds that children of immigrants are experiencing trauma as a result of the threat of deportation and family separation as well as the direct experience of raids, deportation proceedings and parent removal from the United States.  An increased focus on enforcement through Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and the lack of enforcement priorities alongside the growing research on the harm of ACEs to children’s development has led to growing concern that these experiences will reach more children—not just those directly experiencing immigration enforcement—and have a lasting impact on children and community well-being.”

The report goes onto present the following disturbing numbers regarding deportation that go a long way toward explaining the widespread trauma:

The Migration Policy Institute estimates that approximately 7 percent of children under the age of 18 live with an unauthorized immigration parent. In recent years, an estimated half a million children have experienced the apprehension, detention, and deportation of at least one parent.

The data from North Carolina show the reach of deportations. In Fiscal Year 2017, 71 people departed from North Carolina through ICE-executed deportation while more than 1,000 were ordered removed in the same year under the Secure Communities program. Since 2008, when data first started to be collected, 7,148 women with children were in deportation proceedings from North Carolina, and 3,826 received orders of removal from the country. There have been 3,140 children under the age of 18 with removal orders from North Carolina since 2005.”

And, of course, in addition to the direct trauma they inflict on children, ICE deportations impose significant economic costs. As the report explains:

…studies have found that following the deportation of a family member, family income could decrease by as much as half. With this decline in income, families face greater economic hardship and the associated toxic stress of poverty while also decreasing their participation in the local economy and civic life. Second, there are direct costs to taxpayers associated with apprehension, detention and deportation costs on families and their communities.”

Add to this the additional community costs for items like foster care for the thousands of children separated from their parents and increased services in public schools, and the negative impact of ICE’s deportation campaign comes into even sharper relief.

Simply put, ICE actions are helping to endanger the wellbeing of millions of American children in numerous ways and this reality is having all sorts of negative consequences. State and federal lawmakers would do well to read the report and carefully consider its implications for federal immigration policy.

Click here [2] to read the full report.