Immigration report highlights deportee family separation

TUCSON – The University of Arizona released its study on migration and deportation. The newly released study found 1 in 3 deported immigrants said their home is in the United States, not Mexico.

Ten percent said they’ve been physically abused by U.S. authorities, and 30 percent said they were forced to sign immigration papers they didn’t understand.

Researchers surveyed more than 1,000 deported immigrants for this report from 2010 to 2012, and they found 1 in 4 of these deportees have children under the age of 18 who are U.S. citizens.

Carol Estrada said she can’t imagine being separated from her baby.

“I will do anything for my baby,” said Estrada.

But according to the University of Arizona’s immigration report, in many cases, mothers are separated from their young kids when they’re found in the country illegally.

Estrada said she has no reason to fear deportation.

She’s in the U.S. legally, but she can’t say the same for some family and friends.

“They’re scared to be caught because if they get caught, they’ll be taken to jail,” said Estrada.

She said one of her friends was recently deported.

Her toddler children are U.S. citizens, and Estrada said they are now in CPS custody.

“They’re just little kids starting to grow up,” said Estrada.

According to the researchers from the Migrant Border Crossing study, 25 percent of the deported immigrants surveyed said they’ll cross again within the next week, 50 percent at some other time in the future.

Those with the closest ties to people in the U.S., people like Estrada’s deported friend, were the most sure they’d be back.

“If they consider this their home or if their children are in the United States, they’re going to keep trying, so we’re not going to be able to punish that out of them,” said Joy Olson with the Washington Office of Latin America.

The researchers said the immigration system is flawed.

“Especially with family ties and homes in the U.S., it’s just going to keep causing a self-perpetuating system,” said Jeremy Slack, a lead investigator of the report.

They hope their data will help policy makers better understand immigration trends.

They are heading to Washington D.C. in April to discuss the report.

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