A new report released by the Center on Law and Social Policy (CLASP) has detailed the ways in which indecision surrounding immigration policy has affected immigrant families in six states including North Carolina, especially focusing on children.
“This study from CLASP was motivated by widespread reports that children and families are being harmed by the Trump Administration’s immigration policy priorities,” said CLASP on their website. “We confirmed many of these reports after speaking with 150 early childhood educators and parents in six states—California, Georgia, Illinois, New Mexico, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.”
The immigration policy priorities mentioned on their website reference the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA, which was introduced by former President Barack Obama in 2012, shields those who were illegally brought into the United States as children from deportation. Those who participated in the program are often referred to as “Dreamers.”
“The status is renewable, lasting two years at a time. The program does not provide a pathway to citizenship,” wrote Caitlin Dickerson of the New York Times in a piece explaining the intricacies DACA. “Participation in the program comes with a range of benefits. Along with permission to remain in the country, recipients can also get work permits, through which many have obtained health insurance from their employers.”
In September 2017, President Trump ended DACA after various conservative state attorney generals threatened to suits, claiming it was an overreach by the Executive branch. He requested for Congress to replace the program within months, but no replacement has been decided on to date.
“You guys are going to have to come up with a solution [for DACA], and I’m going to sign that solution,” Trump said at a bipartisan meeting in January 2018.
The inaction around the replacement of DACA has led to a great deal of fear for many immigrant families which is what CLASP’s report is based on. The report, titled “Our Children’s Fear: Immigration Policy’s Effects on Young Children,” explores the trauma that families are going through by recording interviews with parents and early childhood educators. A companion piece, called “Immigration Policy’s Harmful Impacts on Early Care and Education,” focuses on recommendations for those who are supporting the immigrant families dealing with this trauma.
“Our study was motivated by widespread reports that children and families are being harmed by the Trump Administration’s immigration policy priorities,” the study’s authors Wendy Cervantes, Rebecca Ullrich and Hannah Matthews wrote in the executive summary. “This report documents impacts on young children of immigrants, whether their parents have some form of lawful immigration status or are undocumented.”
In the study, some of the key findings include children fearing their parents’ deportation, parents experiencing “severe stress” and families being isolated in their homes. All of which have led to lack of access to education, nutrition and health care services.
“You feel like you don’t know what’s going to happen,” said an early childhood educator in Illinois. “That feeling of stability—emotional stability and security—is what most of our families have lost.”