Deporting Social Capital: Implications for immigrant communities in the United States (Jacqueline Hagan, David Leal & Nestor Rodriguez, Migr Stud (2015) 3 (3): 370-392)
The United States currently removes approximately 400,000 individual migrants each year, which represents close to an eightfold increase since the mid-1990s. While scholars have studied the consequences of such policies for children and families, this article posits broader effects on communities through the reduction of immigrant social and human capital. Using findings from three studies of immigrant communities and Salvadoran deportees, we show that current deportation practices remove individuals with a wide range of socio-economic resources and ties to local communities. When they are removed from economic, family, social, and civic networks, the individuals and communities left behind are impoverished in important ways. This is particularly consequential for low-resource immigrant communities, which under the best of circumstances encounter obstacles to economic advancement, social integration, and political engagement. In addition, we consider the potential harm to the institutions in which immigrants participate, such as businesses and churches, which has implications for the economy and society more generally.