No Child Left Behind? U.S. Immigration and Divided Families

Guillermina Jasso, New York University (NYU)
Mark R. Rosenzweig, Yale University

It is a great irony that U.S. immigration law, whose cornerstone is family reunification, should divide so many families. Yet little is known about the mechanisms by which parents get green cards and children (of all ages) do not, in large part due to lack of data. This paper develops a framework for studying the green card dynamics associated with family division and unification; reviews existing administrative sources of data and makes suggestions for enhancing their usefulness in shedding light on these phenomena; and, using the New Immigrant Survey, provides preliminary estimates of the numbers of children adult immigrants “leave behind” at immigration. The framework is attentive to four main dimensions – children’s need for a green card, children’s eligibility for a green card, legal versus behavioral mechanisms in obtaining green cards for children, and the two temporal phases for uniting or dividing families, at parental LPR and after parental LPR.

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Presented in Session 109: Families Living Apart in the United States