Deportation: How Having Parents Deported Affects Kids

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With immigration being a hot topic issue today, it seems that everyone has an opinion on deportation. But amidst all the debating, arguing, shouting, and back-and-forth commenting, there is a group of people that are left out of the conversation: those who have been left behind. 

Deportation Backlashes

When a parent is suddenly, forcibly removed from a child’s life, there are a number of psychological backlashes. Children often become angry, depressed, withdrawn and anxious. These symptoms are even more pronounced if there is a sudden change in the financial stability of the household. And they can often have long-term affects.

Destabilizing Families

Imagine if you grew up in a relatively nice house, living a relatively normal life. You have family at home and a good group of friends at school. Suddenly, your father or mother is gone forcing your family to pack up and move. Perhaps, to keep everyone together, your family moves to another country.

Frontal Lobes and Hormones

This type of disruption is stressful for both adults and kids, but the adults have fully developed frontal lobes that allow them to reason and to eventually cope. Children, on the other hand, have underdeveloped frontal lobes, which cannot handle the stress as adults can. Then there are teenagers who are also experiencing the mental and physical changes that come with puberty. Internal disruption.

Feeling Secure

Children need three things in their lives to feel secure: an adult that they can confide in, a peer they can confide in and a particular skill at which they can excel. These conditions change when a parent is deported or when they have move to a new city, away from their friends.

Troubled Kids, Troubled Adults

The repercussions of deporting someone echoes through a family far into the future. Children with anxiety and depression may end up self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. In certain cities, local gangs replace a child’s need for family. In other places, cults, extreme groups and even certain dark corners of the internet are places for struggling kids and teens to find apparent comfort. 

The Root of the Issue

As a society, we often look at our problems as isolated issues. If we take a step back, we’ll see that human beings are social creatures that live in social hierarchies. The problems that disrupt society are all connected and there is no quick fix. It’s important to address the root of the problem.

Illegal immigration is an issue the government will have to handle, but it cannot do it by simply passing a quick-fix legislation. It must humanely handle the folks that are here now while addressing the issues in the countries from which the immigrants are fleeing. That combination will stop the flow and help those who are here to assimilate.

What are your thoughts on deportation?

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