Authorities have deported the legal immigrant parents of more than 88,000 U.S. citizen children in the last decade, according to a report released Wednesday.
The report, published by the UC Berkeley and UC Davis law schools, found that the majority of parents were deported for what it described as "minor criminal convictions" now classified as aggravated felonies, including nonviolent drug offenses, simple assaults and drunk driving. One parent was deported after selling $5 worth of drugs.
The report also found that the deported parents had lived in the country for an average of 10 years and more than half of them had at least one child at home. The deportations caused increased depression, sleeplessness and behavioral problems, plummeting grades and a greater urge to drop out of school, according to the study's interviews with family members.
The deportations began increasing after Congress made several controversial revisions to immigration laws in 1996. The revisions broadened the types of deportable offenses considered "aggravated felonies," required mandatory deportation for those convicted of such crimes, and severely limited a judge's ability to consider the effects of deportation on children.