Paradoxes of Family Immigration Policy: Separation, Reorganization, and Reunification of Families Under Current Immigration Laws

29 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2015

Date Written: January-April 2015

Abstract

It is increasingly recognized that immigration laws affect immigrants' integration. Most recently there has been growing attention to how immigration enforcement affects families through forced separations caused by deportations and long‐term family separations across national borders stemming from unauthorized entry to the United States. However, beyond enforcement, there has been little systematic account of how other provisions of immigration law contribute to family separations. In this article we examine how four key provisions in immigration law, far from creating conditions for immigrant families to reunite, contribute to keeping families apart. As such, these provisions shape, in fundamental ways, the structure and composition of immigrant families. Relying on data from the American Community Survey and ethnographic interviews in Phoenix, Arizona, we find evidence consistent with the premise that immigration laws affect the formation, composition, and structure of immigrant families with potential long‐term consequences.

Suggested Citation

Enchautegui, Maria and Menjívar, Cecilia, Paradoxes of Family Immigration Policy: Separation, Reorganization, and Reunification of Families Under Current Immigration Laws (January-April 2015). Law & Policy, Vol. 37, Issue 1-2, pp. 32-60, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2581263 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/lapo.12030

Maria Enchautegui (Contact Author)

The Urban Institute ( email )

2100 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
United States

Cecilia Menjívar

Department of Sociology ( email )

Lawrence, KS 66045-7585
United States

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