Researcher writes about the psychological costs of deportation

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For thousands of immigrants who arrived here as young children, the U.S. is the only country they can remember. This can make deportation especially crushing.

Tobin Hansen, a UO doctoral candidate in anthropology, spent 18 months in northern Mexico living with deported adults who had arrived in the U.S. before the age of 13. He wrote about the experience for The Conversation.

“The people I interviewed articulated a deep sense of national belonging in the United States,” Hansen writes. “Divorced from home, deportees often felt incomplete, shut out or shut down.”

Many of the deportees Hansen met arrived in the U.S. during early childhood, and, when deported, found themselves in a country entirely unfamiliar.

In the article, Hansen calls for the protection of immigrants who fall under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in order to protect more of them from the psychological, social and economic stresses of deportation.

“Lawmakers, citizen and media discourse often focus immigration debates on noncitizens’ potential economic and social benefits to the United States,” he writes. “Nevertheless, the U.S. government also claims to ground policy decisions in principles of basic human well-being.”

For more, see “Deportees in Mexico tell of disrupted lives, families and communities”.

Hansen’s research focuses on Latin America, the northern Mexico borderlands and the U.S. Southwest. His areas of interest include displacement and exile, illicit flows, social constructions of criminalities, masculinities, policing, borders, drug use and abuse, ethnic and racial identities, and citizenship, belonging and mobility.