The meaning of illegality for children in mexican families
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The Meaning of Illegality for Children in Mexican Families. Joanna Dreby, Assistant Professor of Sociology University at Albany, SUNY. I asked 10-year-old Andrea if she knows what an immigrant is.

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The meaning of illegality for children in mexican families

The Meaning of Illegality for Children in Mexican Families

Joanna Dreby,

Assistant Professor of Sociology

University at Albany, SUNY


I asked 10-year-old Andrea if she knows what an immigrant is.

  • “Yeah, it is when someone is illegal in this country and police-ICE come to look for them to send them back to their country.”

    Her eyes started to water when she then told me her parents are immigrants. I asked if she is proud that her parents are immigrants. She said “no.”

  • “Do you ever feel scared that they are immigrants?” I continued.

  • “Yeah,” she said, her chin quivering.

  • “What scares you?” I asked.

  • “When the police-ICE come they will take them.”


Deportation by the numbers
Deportation by the numbers is.

  • Under the Obama administration, nearly 400,000 individuals have been deported in 2010 and again in 2011.

  • This represents a vast increase from even just 10 years ago: in 2001, 190,000 were deported.

  • Mexicans are 30 percent of the foreign-born and 58 percent of the unauthorized.

  • In 2009, 63 percent of those detained, 72 percent of those forcibly removed and 80 percent of voluntary departures were Mexican.


U s immigration enforcement
U.S. Immigration Enforcement is.

Sources:

Simanski, John and Sapp. Lesley M. 2012. “Immigration Enforcement Actions: 2011” Office of Immigration Statistics. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved from http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/immigration-statistics/enforcement_ar_2011.pdf

U.S Department of Homeland Security. 2011. “Immigration Enforcement Actions: 2010” Office of Immigration Statistics. Retrieved from: http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/enforcement-ar-2010.pdf

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, ENFORCE Alien Removal Module (EARM), January 2012, Enforcement Integrated Database (EID), December 2011. Retrieved from: http://www.dhs.gov/yearbook-immigration-statistics-2011-3


How do changing immigration enforcement practices and policies impact children and their families?

How do these impacts vary across different localities?


Northeast ohio
NORTHEAST OHIO policies impact children and their families?


Central new jersey
CENTRAL NEW JERSEY policies impact children and their families?


Percent of spouses who had been arrested detained or deported
Percent of Spouses who policies impact children and their families?had been Arrested, Detained or Deported


Data and methods
DATA AND METHODS policies impact children and their families?

  • Interviews with 91 parents (mostly mothers; 11 dads) and 110 children (ages 5-15) in 80 families.

  • Sample includes parents who are U.S. born (11), legal migrants (17), and undocumented (63).

  • Sample includes children who are U.S. born (71), legal migrants (8) and undocumented (31).

  • I also did home and school visits with children in the 2nd and 3rd grades in a select group of families (12), six in each site.

  • Research completed 2009-2011 (Ohio), 2011-2012 (New Jersey)


Similarities in children’s experiences policies impact children and their families?

across the two sites


Fears of the police
FEARS OF THE POLICE policies impact children and their families?

  • “They know [about their legal status] and sometimes when I see a patrol car, I say ‘police in sight’, and they know that they have to sit up straight . . . then they see that it has gone by and the danger is gone, then they relax.”

  • “Her biggest worry is this [her legal status]. She used to evade people so they would not ask her questions because she was afraid that they would ask her for a social security number . . . she started biting her nails out of worry.”


Fears of family separations
FEARS OF FAMILY SEPARATIONS policies impact children and their families?

  • A 6-year-old said she is scared her mom is an immigrant, “because if I am here and my mom goes to Mexico I am going to be sad because I would miss her.”

  • A 10-year-old boy said, “What happens if some cop comes into our house and wants to see our papers and then when we don’t have it. My little brother and my other cousin have theirs and we have to go and that’s what is scary about it.”

  • A 9-year old girl said, “I saw a video of people and they are immigrants and one time they were going back to Mexico and the policeman caught them and they took them. And they had a daughter and they left the daughter in the car.”


The media s influence
THE MEDIA’S INFLUENCE policies impact children and their families?

  • A 10-year-old told me when I asked her if she had ever seen someone have their parents taken away, “Yes, I’ve seen it on TV.”

  • A 12-year--old girl said she is scared that the members of her family are immigrants “because when that happened on the news that a lot of people were getting liked catched like um came on the door random and just took them. Yeah, I got really scared that time.”


Equating immigration with illeaglity
EQUATING IMMIGRATION WITH ILLEAGLITY policies impact children and their families?

  • A 12-year-old U.S. citizen boy told me when I asked him what he thought it was like to be an immigrant: “Like they must be like scared when like they, if they catch them, then they have to go back to their country.”

  • A 10-year-old said that most in his family are immigrants and that he thinks it would be “weird” to be an immigrant. “What’s weird about it?” I asked him. “I think that like the people that are not from here, they are not supposed to be here.”


Stigma and immigration
STIGMA AND IMMIGRATION policies impact children and their families?

  • An 8-year old girl said: “They are like mean because I was born in a different place from my mom.”

  • 12-year old Osvelia told me: “I really don’t - - like, um, I want some people to know.”

    “So which people would you feel okay knowing,” I asked her.

    “My friends that I feel like keep secrets well.”

  • A 10-year-old boy told me he didn’t want people to know “because then it spreads around the whole school, they start rumors.”


Only policies impact children and their families?27 (of 110) children interviewed across the sites said they were proud of their immigrant heritage.

This compares to 81 (of 110)children who said they were proud of their Mexican heritage.


Differences in children’s experiences policies impact children and their families?

across the two sites


OHIO policies impact children and their families?

  • Comments in our interviews suggested that children understood the threat of deportability, yet they described—and I observed—few incidents in which legality came up during children’s everyday routines.

  • Deportability was rather intangible; it could potentially affect children’s families on an individual basis, but did not regularly affect children as members of peer groups or the local community.


Race trumps legal status
Race trumps legal status policies impact children and their families?

  • A second-grader said “Sometimes they say to me that I’m stupid [because mom is from Mexico]..... Stephen sometimes says to me, ‘I don’t care about Mexico, and I don’t care about where your stupid mom is from.”

  • A 13-year-old said a boy once came over to her while she sat with her friends and, imitating a rural accent, said “Girl, why don’t you go back to Mexico?”

  • One mother of a 9-year-old explained that her son has also been teased at school. She thinks the problem is the other children’s parent. “The parents tell them something like, oh, well, that’s because they are illegals, and this and the other thing, and that is why he [her son] is always saying that he is not Mexican.”


A full 25 policies impact children and their families?% of children interviewed in Ohio reported feeling excluded from their peers.

Only 8.9% of children interviewed in New Jersey reported feeling excluded from their peers.


New jersey
NEW JERSEY policies impact children and their families?


Children s reports of peer awareness of their backgrounds
CHILDREN’S REPORTS OF PEER AWARENESS OF THEIR BACKGROUNDS policies impact children and their families?


Sandy, the girl next to me, pointed up and down the row of girls and boys to my left and right and named each child who was born in the DR. “How about kids who’ve been to school in Mexico?” I asked her. She looked back at me blankly, and finally shrugged her shoulders and referred to Suraya, another Dominican girl next to her, who couldn’t tell me either. Karla, the most social of the Mexican girls in the classroom sat across the table from us and was listening in, so I asked her. “I was born at St. Peters [the local hospital]” she told me in perfect Spanish. “I don’t know about the others,” she said looking around. Finally, a light-skinned girl sitting right next to her who had been listening to us all along said she had been in school in Puebla, and was born there. “Are there others in your class?” I asked her. She too shrugged her shoulders, unsure.


Implications
IMPLICATIONS???? girls and boys to my left and right and named each child who was born in the DR. “How about kids who’ve been to school in Mexico?” I asked her. She looked back at me blankly, and finally shrugged her shoulders and referred to

The local infrastructure and context matters for children’s lives. LOCAL POLICIES AND PRACTICES HAVE AN IMPACT and must be assessed. What role can the media play in this process?

NATIONAL ENFORCEMENT POLICIES

Children FEAR FAMILY SEPARATION.

  • How can policies be created to alleviate these fears?

  • How can we assess and report on what happens to children separated from their parents?

  • Children equate IMMIGRATION with a STIGMA and with ILLEGALITY.

    • This is likely to affect children’s integration into U.S society over the long-run. How can policies promote positive integration of immigrants into the U.S.?

  • Children become ashamed of their IMMIGRANT HERITAGE

    • What happens to children’s identity formation as they grow up?

    • What about USC children who must return to Mexico?


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