Torn Apart by Deportation

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.

From New York to Jamaica, Families Struggle to Stay Together 

Media Contact: Debayani Kar 510.338.4917 

October 22, 2009: ColorLines magazine went on the road from New York to Jamaica this summer to investigate the collateral effects of deportation on immigrant communities. The resulting Torn Apart article series and multimedia project is being released today at

Earlier this month, Obama administration officials announced plans to reform immigrant detention policy ostensibly to make improvements to the broken system. The New York Times reported on the detention framework’s serious flaws namely that people who have committed no crime are being swept up into the system and locked away in detention. Meanwhile the 287(g) program begun under President Bush and continued by President Obama has come under fire for widespread abuses

Harsh immigration policy, compounded by systemic inequities built into the criminal justice system, might not be thwarting terrorists or making our country a whole lot safer. But the laws are doing a great job of breaking up another entity: families of color. This broken immigration system inflicts as much harm on Black immigrants as other immigrants of color. 

“Immigrants face de facto double jeopardy,” says Torn Apart coauthor Julianne Ong Hing. “Even legal residents caught in the criminal justice system for the most minor crimes are vulnerable to deportation. After their criminal cases end, immigrants are subject to the civil procedures of immigration courts. Deportation follows incarceration.” 

Visit today for the Torn Apart article series, video, photo essay, and more.  

FOUNDED IN 1981, the Applied Research Center is America's largest think tank on race. ARC investigates the hidden racial consequences of public policy initiatives and develops new frameworks to resolve racially charged debates. With offices in New York, Chicago, and Oakland, ARC serves its mission through three program areas: Media and Journalism, Strategic Research and Policy Analysis, and the Racial Justice Leadership Action Network. ARC also publishes ColorLines magazine.