All too often, the everyday, real-life effects of unauthorized status are overlooked in debates about abstract numbers or policies. But a broken immigration system that has more than 11 million people living in the United States without legal status—the vast majority of whom have been here for more than a decade—takes a very real toll on American families. Parents—mostly mothers—have to deal with providing for their children when a spouse is deported, while children face a range of negative psychological and emotional consequences from the fear of having a loved one taken from them.
Based on interviews with 81 families, including 110 young children and 91 parents, my recently published study, Everyday Illegal, documents the concrete and multiple costs to American families as a result of the broken U.S. immigration system. These policies affect not only undocumented immigrants, but also native-born citizens and legal migrants. While there are approximately 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States, there are an estimated 16.6 million people living in mixed-status families, generally with undocumented parents and citizen children. These families and their individual members pay a steep price from immigration enforcement, as do all Americans. The stories and quotes that follow are drawn from the interviews that make up Everyday Illegal.
For more on this idea, please see: