While anti-immigration advocates will go on and on about the concept of “anchor babies,” American-born children of undocumented immigrants exploited as a get-out-of-deportation card, there really isn’t any such thing anymore. Between half a million and 800,000 American-born children have moved from the United States to Mexico with their undocumented parents in the last decade, most of those the victims of deportations. Most come from California, which tightened legislation over agricultural hiring practices in 2008.
While they may not have been specifically included in the deportation orders as American-born citizens, their options were limited. What can a third-grader do when their parents are forced to leave the country?
“They’re minors, and they have no voice…That has forced the de facto deportation of U.S. citizen children…a violation not only of the Constitution and rights of citizenship, but it’s also a violation of human life and children’s rights,” said Armando Vazquez-Ramos, a professor at Cal State and president of the California-Mexico Studies Center.
In Mexico, the Mexican Education Department does not have a solid infrastructure for so many added students, many of whom speak little or no Spanish. There is a program to help American students assimilate, but it is unevenly available, as bilingual teachers are expensive and this influx is still less than a decade old.
A UCLA study showed that fewer than 5 percent of Mexican teachers speak or read enough English to assess the educational needs of an Anglophone student, meaning American students get quickly left behind in their new schools.
This is if they can go. American-born children of Mexican parents do not automatically have Mexican citizenship, which they need in order to attend public school. Acquiring dual citizenship can cost half a year and hundreds of dollars.
Today, with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, this pressure on Mexican schools may be increased. The Trump administration wants to end the protections for undocumented children brought to the U.S, which would mean another wave of children deported from the U.S. into Mexican schools.