“As a scholar and social-community psychologist, my job is to figure out what creates healthy, strong, vibrant communities, and to share research findings in an attempt to influence public policy,” says Psychology Professor Regina Langhout, lead author of the policy statement. “We can be a barometer of this, because we know the research.”
The deportation and forced separation of immigrants has negative effects that extend beyond individuals and families to entire communities in the United States, according to the Society for Community Research and Action, which has issued a policy statement calling for changes to U.S. policy.
Based on a review of the effects of three decades of U.S. immigration policy, the policy statement details the psychosocial and economic impacts of deportation on children and families, as well as broader community consequences that unfold as immigrants fearful of being targeted withdraw from civic engagement.
“This policy brief is a thorough examination of the research,” said Regina Langhout, professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lead author of the brief; the policy statement will appear in the upcoming edition of the American Journal of Community Psychology, which is available online now.
“U.S. immigration and deportation policies have negative effects for everybody—not just in immigrant communities, but for everybody,” said Langhout. “When families are torn apart without their consent, it has very negative outcomes for everyone.”
Langhout and her coauthors underscore the psychological trauma and material hardship experienced by U.S.-born children of immigrants, and the number of people impacted by current deportation policies, before recommending changes to federal and local policy. Among their conclusions:
Studies reveal that children who lose a parent to sudden, forced deportation experience anxiety, anger, aggression, withdrawal, a heightened sense of fear, eating and sleeping disturbances, isolation, trauma, and depression.
Children also experience housing instability, academic withdrawal, and …