Child Maltreatment and Immigration Enforcement: Considerations for Child Welfare and Legal Systems Working with Immigrant Families

By: Alan J. Dettlaff and Megan Finno-Velasquez. Published by: Children’s Legal Rights Journal. Published in 2013

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Hispanic children and families are the fastest growing population in the US and in the child welfare system. Children with at least one foreign-born parent comprise 26 percent of the total child populations. In the literature review, the authors present immigration enforcement is a risk for child welfare involvement.

Highlights include:

  • “Some children separated from their parents experienced not only emotional trauma, but also housing instability and food insecurity due to the loss of parental income. Children also faced considerable behavioral changes, including more frequent crying and increased fear and anxiety” (p. 52).
  • “Although some children are entering the child welfare system as a result of immigration enforcement actions, most children of immigrants who become involved in this system likely do so through traditional means–the result of a maltreatment report” (p. 53).
  • “A related concern for child welfare agencies serving immigrant children and families is the ability to access culturally and linguistically sensitive services” (p. 54).


Categories: Children, Family, Legal Aid Attorneys, Legal Aid Practitioners, Limited English Proficiency (LEP), Migrants/Immigrants, National, Pro Bono

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