Understanding Secondary Immigration Enforcement: Immigrant Youth and Family Separation in a Border County
47 Journal of Law & Education ___ (2018 Forthcoming)
37 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2017
Date Written: June 26, 2017
Young people in immigrant families are often characterized as a separate population in debates over immigration reform, with distinctive claims and interests as compared to their parents. Bifurcating the undocumented population between children and parents over-simplifies how immigration enforcement impacts families. This article challenges the dichotomy between children and parents by studying how young people who are not direct enforcement targets are nevertheless impacted by immigration enforcement policies, regardless of their own immigration status. These impacts, which I call “secondary immigration enforcement,” often manifest as family separations. To render secondary immigration enforcement visible, I studied 38 young people in Arizona who are living on their own – without either biological parent – at least in part because of immigration enforcement policies. Drawing on in-depth interviews and self-assessments of psycho-social functioning, I describe what secondary immigration enforcement looks like and how it operates. I illustrate that deportation statistics alone fail to capture the extent of immigration enforcement because they do not encompass the complex impacts of secondary enforcement. In addition to the acute disruptions caused by deportations of family members, the young people in the study also experienced family separation as a result of immigration enforcement’s interaction with three other key factors: family dysfunction, extreme poverty, and educational aspirations.
Keywords: secondary immigration enforcement, youth on their own, deportation, family, poverty, educational aspirations
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