George Diepenbrock
KU News Service

Lawrence case is example of 'wrenching family separation' under recent US policy changes, immigration researcher says

Tue, 02/13/2018

LAWRENCE — The ongoing deportation legal battle of a Lawrence man, Syed Jamal, who was taken into custody and away from his wife and three children, all U.S. citizens, has drawn international media attention and interest from members of Congress.

A University of Kansas researcher on the social effects of immigration policy says Jamal's case is an example that has played out for several years as the federal government has stepped up detentions and deportations first under the Obama administration and appearing to continue with the Trump administration.

Cecilia Menjívar, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Sociology and co-leader of the KU Center for Migration Research, is an expert on U.S.-bound migration policy and on how laws and legal context that receive immigrants influence their lives and trajectories. She is available to speak about deportations and the U.S. legal system. Menjívar and co-authors are working on forthcoming studies about the effects of U.S. immigration policy and enforcement strategies on immigrants and their families.

"Unfortunately, the immigration enforcement system today causes the same suffering and pain of family separation on a daily basis to hundreds who are less visible — many in Kansas," Menjívar said. "This has been happening for some time already, and this has been the reality for hundreds of thousands of — mostly Latino — immigrants," Menjívar said, noting that in 2013 alone, the Obama administration deported more than 400,000 people.

Under the Trump administration, detentions have gone up about 33 percent, but the government has deported comparatively fewer — though still in the thousands — mostly because border crossing has dropped dramatically, she said. Many deportations in the past were initiated from the border region.

"This administration, also, has expanded detentions and deportations from the interior of the country quite a bit, so we will see more of these wrenching family separations," Menjívar said.

To arrange an interview with Menjívar, contact George Diepenbrock at 785-864-8853 or

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