Mental and Physical Health of Families Due to Stringent Immigration Laws

Topics: Immigration to the United States, Immigration, Illegal immigration Pages: 5 (1672 words) Published: May 28, 2013
Mental and Physical Health of Families Due to Stringent Immigration Laws The mental and physical health effects on families because of immigration laws being more strictly enforced is becoming more and more evident. Health issues like depression, anxiety, and obesity to name a few are evident, not only in the children, whom are more susceptible because they do not understand the immigration process, but also the parents. The effects of these laws can cause long term mental damage on children. Families are being torn apart every day because parents are being deported after spending most of their lives in the United States; although, they were illegal immigrants their children were born in the United States and their family has never been to Mexico or Latin America. This affects the entire family. Children fear going to school because they are afraid their parent will not be home when they arrive from school. Parents do not want to leave the house in fear of being detained by immigration officials or even being deported. When parents are deported and there is no one around to take charge of their children, they must be placed with foster families. After deportation the process sometimes takes months even years and the parents have no way to contact their children and vice versa. This type of situation has adverse effects on a child’s mental stability, leading to problems in school and social settings. The parents also suffer severe depression and anxiety because they have no idea where their children are and they have no way to communicate with them. In some instances entire communities are affected by fear of being deported by immigration officials. In the article “Immigration policies on public health,” residents of a Hispanic community in Arizona were interviewed about the effects immigration laws have on their community: Residents also reflected on how SB 1070---related fear was negatively affecting their health, in a repeat of the aftermath of Proposition 187 in the 1990s.13 When asked where her neighbors shopped for healthy food, a 65-yearold woman who had lived in the neighborhood for more than 40 years answered, “No one wants to go far anymore. They are afraid. They go to the nearest place to get whatever they can find to eat.” In a neighborhood with no major grocery store and several fast food and gas station markets, fear of travel in public could severely skew food purchasing and consumption behaviors. This woman’s comments demonstrated the impact of the law on community members who had already reported challenges in accessing healthy food. Residents also reported reluctance to allow their children to engage in physical exercise outside the home. Lack of access to healthy food and limited opportunity to exercise are barriers to healthy living. (Hardy et. Al 1251) These fears lead to an increase in child obesity in the community and families were less likely to go see a doctor because they did not have one in the surrounding community. This is an example of only one small community of immigrants. If this is the effect of immigration on this small community imagine the mental and physical effects encountered by the rest of the immigrant population. In turn, children do not know how the immigration process works or why it is in place. Young children only know that they live in the United States and feel they are free to do anything like a normal child, like every child should feel. But when illegal immigrant parents start stressing over possibly being separated from their family their children sense that. Even when parents are legal residents they have to worry about immigration laws. If they commit any kind of crime or have to be fingerprinted for any reason Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will know who they are and where they live and place on an immigration hold on them, depending on the crime. Meaning they have to see an immigration judge prior to being released from custody. The...

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