Deportations and Mental Health

I recently finished a two-part series for New Mexico In Depth and Fronteras Desk about how the deportation of family members might impact the mental health of young people.

Part 1: Schools try to keep students focus on academics

David Varela is a senior at the South Valley Academy just outside Albuquerque. He found out last year that his parents and grandmother are living in the United States without legal status.

“What would happen with my family if they ever get deported?” he asks. Now that he knows, David says it’s hard to keep the possibility his family members will be deported out of his mind: “What am I going to do, where am I going to stay? I don’t know if I could ever survive without them.”

Part 2: Families arm kids with emergency plans

Sarah Nolan is the executive director of Comunidades en Accion y de Fe, an immigrants’ rights organization known as CAFÉ, in Las Cruces near the U.S.-Mexico border. Nolan says parents who are vulnerable have created deportation readiness plans.

“They have an emergency plan for if one or both parents get deported and what happens when they’re alone,” she says. Nolan compares this preparation to families who teach their kids how to get out of the house during a fire …. “They have armed their older children with a rapid response.”

These stories aired on NPR stations in the Southwestern US, including KPCC in Los Angles, CA.

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