Shattered Families

“Shattered Families: The Perilous Intersection of Immigration Enforcement and the Child Welfare System,” a 2011 report by the Applied Research Center (now Race Forward)

“Immigration enforcement greatly increases the chances that families will never see each other again. Detaining and deporting parents shatter families and endanger children left behind. It’s unacceptable, un-American, and a clear sign that we need to revisit our immigration policies.” — Rinku Sen, Race Forward

Read Race Forward's Statement (3/30/17): "Spike in Immigration Raids, Deportations of Parents Will Shatter Families and Leave Thousands in Foster Care"

Download PDFs

Shattered Families Report cover. Silhouette of parent and two children, an arrow pointing to family with parent labeled “deported” and children labeled “foster care.”

Read the Executive Summary

Read the Full Report

  • Analysis of the problem 
  • Underlying causes 
  • Local differences 
  • Recommended solutions

Leer Resumen Ejecutivo de "Familias Destrozadas" en Español

Key Findings

  • As of 2011, at least 5,100 children currently living in foster care who are prevented from uniting with their detained or deported parents.
  • If nothing changes, 15,000 more children may face a similar fate in the next 5 years.
  • Families are more likely to be separated where local police aggressively participate in immigration enforcement.
  • Immigrant victims of domestic violence are at particular risk of losing their children.
  • ICE detention obstructs participation in Child Protective Services’ plans for family unity.
  • Most child welfare departments lack systemic policies to keep families united when parents are detained or deported.


Saving Families

Cover of “Saving Familes.” An adult holds a child in their arms. The adult is looking at the child. The child is looking toward the viewer.

After Colorlines’ mobilization of the public, Felipe finally won his case and brought his children home.

Download the PDF “Saving Familes: Unconvering Unintended Consequences, Mobilizing a Nation


Learn More

Thousands of Kids Lost From Parents In U.S. Deportation System - Seth Freed Wessler, 11/2/11


Stay Up To Date Via Colorlines Reporting


What Can We Do?

  • Federal, state and local governments must create explicit policies to protect families from separation.
  • These policies should stop the clock on the child welfare process and the immigration enforcement process to ensure that families can stay together and allow parents to make the best decisions for the care and custody of their children.

 For more solutions, read the full report here and take a look at our Informational Webinar.


Resources for Families

Additional Readings

MEDIA INQUIRIES: contact [email protected] or 646-274-7433