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Beyond Broken Families: Deportation and its Consequences on Mental Health

Beyond Broken Families: Deportation and its Consequences on Mental Health

Picture of Johanes Rosello

Looking at kids being part of protests against deportations is something that could and should break anyone’s heart. I believe that no child should be in the position of suffering an unexpected separation from their parents because of immigration laws. But as we know, that situation happens every day.

Beyond the immigration laws of the country, there are human beings that struggle to continue their lives without the spouse, mom or dad who was deported. Georgia holds a record number on that matter.

Last year, Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s counties, and the one with the largest population of Latinos in the state, was the second one with the greatest amount of deportations in the United States, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The only other county with more deportations than Gwinnett was Harris County in Texas. Gwinnett County implements the 287(g) Program and after five years since its existence, this county has deported more than 10,000 undocumented immigrants.  Most of those deportees were stopped for a traffic violation and sent into an immigration process because they were unable to produce a driver’s license.

 I've been a witness of how the separation of families not only affects the economy of the family, that in many cases loses the head of the family and breadwinner, but also the mental health of the members of the family who stay in the country. I have seen women and children crying, begging and praying to have their families reunited again.

There are no investigations in Georgia about the effects that the deportations have on the wellbeing of the families, possibly because the amount of separated immigrant families increased overwhelmingly in the last two years.

As a 2013 National Health Journalism Fellow, I will research how deportations are affecting the mental health of the Latino women and children who stay in Georgia, when the father is deported. I will explore with families and mental health services providers how the separation of families is affecting their mental health. I will also explore what barriers the providers confront in order to offer adequate services to these families.


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