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Immigration policies hurt children of undocumented immigrants

Immigration detention cases not only affect the immigrants being detained but his or her family as well. Many immigration officials and supporters of detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants fail to think about the long-term consequences deportation can have on a person's entire family, especially for his or her children. 

Many children living in the United States are impacted by immigration enforcement officials and their decision to detain or deport their parents. Undocumented immigrants being detained or deported have resulted in roughly 5,100 children living in foster care in the U.S., according to the Applied Research Center. 

The Applied Research Center said that many children end up in foster care because judges making decisions in immigration detention and deportation cases are not able to consider the impact it will have on the parent's children. In addition, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is required to follow mandatory detention policies that result in more immigrants being placed in detention just because they are undocumented. 

The health and welfare of children of undocumented immigrants is also impacted by current immigration laws. Many immigrants with children are scared to access basic services, including heath care services, food assistance services like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

A recent study by the Migration Policy Institute found that in addition to children suffering emotionally after a parent is placed in detention or deported, many children end up living in poverty, negatively impacting their overall health and wellness because their parents cannot apply for housing and food assistance over fear of being deported or detained. 

Supporters of immigration reform say that Congress needs to address this issue before it gets any worse. Hopefully Congress will make a consciousness decision to finally address these serious issues affecting children of immigrants and take steps to improve their immigration policies so children will not be separated from their parents. 

Source: Immigration Impact, "Three Ways Congressional Inaction on Immigration is Hurting Children," Amy Grenier, Oct. 22, 2013

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