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The Educational Consequences of Parental Immigration Detention

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Every year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement imprisons hundreds of thousands of noncitizens as they await adjudication on their deportation proceedings. Importantly, many detained individuals have lived in the interior of the country for many years and are parents of young, dependent, school-age children living in the United States. This analysis brings together and builds upon research on parental incarceration and international migration. We analyze 104 multigenerational interviews conducted in California with detained parents, their current or former nondetained spouses/partners, and the school-age children they share. Our findings suggest that children’s academic trajectories are seriously disrupted by the trauma, stigma, and strain of parental imprisonment. Moreover, these vulnerabilities are enhanced in unique ways by children’s positionality as members of mixed-immigration-status families facing the possibility of deportation. Our findings suggest that parental immigration detention can have intergenerational consequences for children’s mobility that disrupt traditional pathways of immigrant integration in mixed-immigration-status families.




Gonzalez, G., & Patler, C. (2021). The Educational Consequences of Parental Immigration Detention. Sociological Perspectives, 64(2), 301–320.

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