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New Study: 88K U.S. Citizen Children Lost Parent to Deportation

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  • Steven Robinson
    New Study: 88,000 U.S. Citizen Children Lost Parent to Deportation UC Davis News & Information March 31, 2010 The United States government deported the lawful
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31 10:19 PM
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      New Study: 88,000 U.S. Citizen Children Lost Parent to Deportation

      UC Davis News & Information March 31, 2010

      The United States government deported the lawful immigrant parents of nearly
      88,000 citizen children between 1997 and 2007, most for relatively minor
      crimes, according to a new report released today by the University of
      California, Davis, and University of California, Berkeley, law schools. The
      deportations often resulted in psychological harm, behavioral changes and
      problems in school for the children left behind.

      The report, "In the Child's Best Interest?" is based on analysis of data
      provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, interviews with
      affected families and comparisons of U.S. and international human rights
      standards. The study was a joint project of the Immigration Law Clinic at
      the UC Davis School of Law, and the International Human Rights Law Clinic
      and the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity
      at the UC Berkeley School of Law. It is available on the Web at
      http://www.law.ucdavis.edu/news/images/childsbestinterest.pdf.

      Drastic revisions to U.S. immigration laws in 1996 led to large numbers of
      deported lawful permanent residents (green card holders), who now make up
      nearly 10 percent of immigrants deported from the U.S., according to the
      report. More than 68 percent of the deported green card holders were
      deported for minor crimes, including driving under the influence, simple
      assault and nonviolent drug offenses, it found.

      "It is often the children in these families who suffer the most," said Raha
      Jorjani, a clinical professor of law at UC Davis and supervising attorney
      for the UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic. "This nation should take into
      consideration the impact on families of uprooting individuals with such
      strong ties to the U.S."

      Current immigration laws severely restrict the ability of judges to consider
      the impact of deportation on children, the report notes. The authors
      recommend restoring judicial discretion in all cases involving the
      deportation of lawful permanent residents with U.S. citizen children.

      "As Congress considers immigration reform, it's time to focus on how the
      current system tears apart families and threatens the health and education
      of tens of thousands of children," said Aarti Kohli, director of immigration
      policy at Berkeley Law's Warren Institute. "This report makes a strong case
      for restoring judicial discretion so immigration judges can weigh the best
      interests of children when deciding whether to deport a parent."

      The report examined deportation records between April 1997 and August 2007.
      The nearly 88,000 legal residents who were deported during this decade had
      lived in the U.S. an average of 10 years, and more than half had at least
      one child living at home, the study found. About half of the children were
      under age 5 when their parent was deported.

      In 1996, Congress also significantly broadened the category of crimes
      considered an "aggravated felony," the report notes. Although this category
      initially included only the most serious offenses, it now includes
      nonviolent theft and drug offenses, forgery and other minor offenses, many
      of which may not be felonies under criminal law. Lawful permanent residents
      convicted of an aggravated felony are now subject to mandatory deportation
      and other severe immigration consequences.

      "Parents who are deported on the basis of criminal convictions are being
      punished twice for the same mistakes," Jorjani said. "Even after
      successfully completing their criminal sentences, they are subject to
      penalties within the immigration system - and risk losing their families."

      Families interviewed for the study reported negative health impacts, such as
      increased depression, sleeplessness and anxiety. Children also reported
      plummeting grades, increased behavioral problems and the urge to drop out of
      school to help support the family.

      The study compares U.S. immigration policy to international standards that
      more adequately address potential family separations in deportation
      hearings.

      "The rights to health and education are firmly entrenched in international
      human rights law, and nearly every major human rights treaty recognizes the
      need for special protection of children," said Laurel Fletcher, director of
      the International Human Rights Law Clinic at the UC Berkeley School of Law.
      "The U.S. should consider revising its policy to mirror European human
      rights standards, which permit judges to balance a nation's security
      interest with the best interests of the child when considering deporting a
      parent."

      "In the Child's Best Interest?" makes a number of recommendations to U.S.
      policymakers, including:

      * restoring judicial discretion in cases involving the deportation of lawful
      permanent residents who have U.S. citizen children;
      * establishing clear judicial guidelines in these family deportation cases;
      * reverting to the pre-1996 definition of "aggravated felony";
      * collecting data on U.S. citizen children of deported lawful immigrant
      parents to gain fuller understanding of impact of deportation laws.

      Co-authors of the study include J.D. candidates and research analysts at UC
      Davis School of Law and UC Berkeley School of Law.

      ******

      Full at: http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=9447

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