April 01, 2010

New Study Observes Detrimental Behaviour on Children of Deported Legal Immigrants

The UC Davis School of Law and UC Berkeley School of Law have published a joint report observing the detrimental consequences children of deported parents must suffer. It is reported that over 80,000 citizen children were negatively affected after their parents had been deported by the U.S. government. Albeit lawful permanent residents, these immigrants were deported due to having committed minor crimes.

In 1996, Congress also significantly broadened the category of crimes considered an “aggravated felony,” the report notes. Although this category initially included only the most serious offenses, it now includes nonviolent theft and drug offenses, forgery and other minor offenses, many of which may not be felonies under criminal law. Lawful permanent residents convicted of an aggravated felony are now subject to mandatory deportation and other severe immigration consequences.

"It is often the children in these families who suffer the most," said Raha Jorjani, a clinical professor of law at UC Davis and supervising attorney for the UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic. "This nation should take into consideration the impact on families of uprooting individuals with such strong ties to the U.S.”

The recently published report,In the Child's Best Interest? makes a number of recommendations to U.S. policymakers, including:

- restoring judicial discretion in cases involving the deportation of lawful permanent residents who have U.S. citizen children;
- establishing clear judicial guidelines in these family deportation cases;
- reverting to the pre-1996 definition of “aggravated felony”;
- collecting data on U.S. citizen children of deported lawful immigrant parents to gain fuller understanding of impact of deportation laws.

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