Framing Immigration to and Deportation from the United States: Guatemalan and Salvadoran Families Make Meaning of Their Experiences

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The United States (US) deportation system and its recent applications have profound implications for the integrity and well-being of immigrant families. Since harsh policies were adopted in 1996, millions of non-citizens, mostly from Mexico and Central America, have been forced to leave the US. Despite the large numbers of people directly threatened by the deportation system, little is known about how it affects Central American immigrant children and families. A participatory action research project was designed in collaboration with local immigrant organizations to (1) document the impact of deportation policy on Guatemalan and Salvadoran immigrant families and (2) collaboratively develop services and advocacy that reflect local constructions of needs and strengths within these families. This paper reports analyses of interviews with 18 families; interviews explored participants� experiences and meaning-making of detention, deportation, and other forces that threaten their families. Analyses of interviews demonstrate how participants construct, deconstruct, and reconstruct the significance of current risks posed by the US deportation system; how these risks intersect with other threats to families, including poverty, state-sponsored violence, and previous migrations; and participants� responses to these risks. Implications for sustaining collaborative relationships toward enhancing human service work, community organizing, and redressing injustices are discussed.

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Journal of Community, Work, & Family



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