Guest Blogger; NYSPA Member: Anu Raj, PsyD
For native-born U.S. citizens, deportation may appear to be a distant concept, one that does not impact their daily lives. Moreover, several groups representing native-born U.S. citizens have discussed the negative psychosocial impact of undocumented immigrants. Unfortunately, all undocumented immigrants are not uniform in their ethnicity, or their reason for staying in the U.S. without supporting documents, or their reason to leave. However, one part remains universal for all immigrants: the United States’ promise of access to higher education despite class or religion or gender, and a chance to live a lifestyle much better than in their country of origin.
Some don’t seem to have any choice, but to live in the undocumented shadows of the United States, while trying to achieve their dreams. A small subset of undocumented immigrants, called dreamers, falls in this category. They are undocumented individuals who left their country of origin, during childhood and did not willingly consent to move to the U.S. Recent threats to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, has brought the issue of consent and the psychological impact of a loss of a home to the forefront. For these individuals, the US is their native country where they have presented a chance to dream big and work towards the quintessential ‘American dream.’ Many politicians believe that these individuals commit crimes and have led to higher unemployment in the mainstream US. Leaving all politics aside, the impact of forced deportation to a country these individuals don’t consider ‘their native country’ will be a disruption of family and community ties.
Being rejected by the only countrymen they know means, a loss of their sense of right versus wrong, and necessary human acceptance. Psychologically, when a family or a community is forcefully and willfully disrupted, the sense of a safe base and belonging erodes. The social network which often buffers negative life events, and encourages progress will weaken. In fact, it is this type of disruption that might lead to higher crime rates and lower employment in those communities. Not to mention, children of these dreamers might need more social support and will end up draining our social structure through foster care, etc. These children might face higher psychopathology and need intense psychiatric care. Instead, it might be more socially responsible for allowing these individuals to pursue a path towards legalization. That would be more American and be accepting.
NYSPA Member: Anu Raj, PsyD