New Article on the Consequences of Parental Detentions and Deportations

The Spring 2021 issue of the Harvard Educational Review is out and I had the opportunity to contribute an article titled, “I Became a Mom Overnight: How Parental Detentions and Deportations Impact Young Adults’ Roles and Educational Experiences.”

The article features the experiences of 32 young adults whose parents were detained and/or deported. The findings urge us to think of deportations not just as physical separations, but also as emotional and social losses within the family. Young adults spoke about the tremendous emotional toll that deportations have on the entire family, the redistribution of roles and responsibilities, the challenges associated with seeking help, the difficulty they experienced concentrating & completing schoolwork, and more.

The article also concludes with a set of recommendations to better support undocumented and mixed-status families coping with a loved one’s detention or deportation.

Here’s a selected excerpt from the article:

“One of the first challenges families experience after a parent’s immigration arrest is an abrupt and profound sense of loss. This loss is not only physical but social. That is, a parent’s physical presence, as well as their roles, responsibilities, relationships, and dynamics within the family, are suddenly disrupted. Angelica vividly described the feelings of loss and uncertainty that stem from a parent’s forced removal from the household:

One of the moments that I remember the most was when she [her younger sister] said to me, “Angelica, what does a deportation mean?” . . . And I didn’t know what to say. I know what a deportation is. But I didn’t know what to tell her, because for us a deportation means having your family split, going from being with all of your family living together to having some member outside of the country. Not knowing where he is, not knowing how he is, or not knowing how you’re going to reunite again, and the implications that it brings along.

The days following an immigration arrest are incredibly difficult for families who overnight have to cope with the sudden loss of their loved one as well as with increased feelings of uncertainty. In response, young adults are driven to dedicate more hours to emotionally supporting their loved ones.”

To read the article, check out the Harvard Educational Review’s official webpage: “I Became a Mom Overnight


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