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Soc Sci Med. 2015 May;132:245-51. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.08.041. Epub 2014 Aug 30.

U.S. immigration policy and family separation: the consequences for children's well-being.

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University at Albany, SUNY, Arts & Sciences 327, 1400 Washington Ave, Albany, NY 12222, USA. Electronic address:


At the start of the twenty-first century, two arms of U.S. immigration policy shape the lives of families and children. The first, enforcement practices, lead to the involuntary separation of parents and children-or the fears of this outcome-when the United States government detains and forcibly removes the parents of U.S. citizen children. The second, the policies which restrict migration to the United States, cause children to experience both long and short term separations when their parents migrate without them. In this paper I use interviews collected between the years of 2003-2006 and 2009-2012 with children and their parents or guardians in both the United States and in Mexico to assess the meanings these two types of separations have for families and the potential impacts for children's well-being. I find that enforcement practices create economic and emotional hardship due to feelings of uncertainty, while restrictive immigration policies lead to resentment among children even post-reunification.


Children; Deportation; Families; Gender; Immigration; Mexico; Policy; Transnational

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