ABC Nightline on Deportation & Child Welfare

On November 6, 2013 Applied Research Center (ARC) was rebranded as Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation. The content on this page was published on the ARC website prior to the rebrand.
Last night ABC Nightline & World News with Diane Sawyer ran a feature story on families being shattered by immigration enforcement, citing ARC’s groundbreaking “Shattered Families” report, which offers the first national data on more than 5,000 children in foster care due to the detainment or deportation of their parents.  ARC projects another 15,000 children will face the threat of permanent separation from their families in the next five years. VIDEO:

ABC's segment offers a rare glimpse into the heartbreaking experiences of children and parents most vulnerable. ARC President Rinku Sen was interviewed as well, quoted: "We're creating a collateral consequence in which thousands of children are ripped away from their families with no real process for being reunited."

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) gave ABC a statement (available here: commenting ("We take great strides to evaluate cases that warrant humanitarian release....Overall, ICE is focused on smart and effective immigration enforcement.") ARC's Response to ICE's statement:

  • ARC President RINKU SEN: "ICE claims are contradicted by a hard reality, which is that detention and deportation dramatically increase the chances that families will never see each other again. This is neither 'smart' nor 'effective.' In fact, it's downright cruel."
  • "Shattered Families" Report Author SETH WESSLER: "As our research makes abundantly clear, detention and deportation regularly obstruct the lines of communication necessary for participation in the child welfare process. If ICE stopped detaining parents, families would not face this kind of traumatic separation"

“Shattered Families” ( is having an impact. President Obama, Newt Gringrich, and other leaders have commented on the gravity of the problem, media coverage is increasing, and people around the country and the world are talking about the need for solutions.


Related articles:

Seth Freed Wessler reports from inside immigration detention centers and follows several families who were shattered. A follow-up story highlighted data ARC obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. This data reveals nearly a quarter of people deported in first half of 2011 were parents with U.S. citizen children. If rates of parent deportation remain steady, the United States will expel as many parents in just 2 years as it did in a 10-year period before the Obama administration.

Additionally, ARC President Rinku Sen describes how domestic violence victims are particularly vulnerable, and discusses why it's crucial to keep immigrant families together