Choiceless Choices: Deportation and the Parent-Child Relationship

51 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2008 Last revised: 6 Oct 2008

See all articles by David B. Thronson

David B. Thronson

Michigan State University College of Law

Date Written: July 3, 2008


Although family relationships play a central role in immigration law, immigration law ultimately makes judgments about individuals. Given that the vast majority of children live in the context of family, there are tensions between children's and parent's rights in situations where immigration law reaches different conclusions about the legal rights of parents and children to remain in the United States. These tensions are exacerbated by immigration law's conceptualization of adult parents as active rights holders and children as passive objects subject to their control. The article places the immigration framework in broader context of the parent-child relationship and explains ways in which family law does not trump, but rather transcends immigration law. One implication of this is that family courts, not immigration courts, are the ultimate decision makers in the resolution of family differences regarding separation prompted by the operation of immigration laws.

Keywords: immigration, family, children's rights, deportation

JEL Classification: I30, K1, K10, K19, K3, K39, K4

Suggested Citation

Thronson, David B., Choiceless Choices: Deportation and the Parent-Child Relationship (July 3, 2008). Nevada Law Review, Vol. 6, p. 1165, 2006, Bender's Immigration Bulletin, Vol. 12, p. 167, February 15, 2007, UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-35, Available at SSRN:

David B. Thronson (Contact Author)

Michigan State University College of Law ( email )

648 North Shaw Lane
East Lansing, MI 48824
United States

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