The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History is running a series called Hardcore Natural History in which they explore different themes in research presentations through three lenses: plant, animal, and human/cultural. Their latest theme is migration, which they’ve covered via eucalyptus trees and plankton; this Friday they cover the human element in a talk titled “Deportation Uncovered.”
It’s a hot political issue, but the presenter is armed with cold, hard research.
Regina Langhout, Ph.D., is provost of Oakes College and a professor in the Psychology Department at UC Santa Cruz. She was the lead author on a policy brief titled “Statement on the Effects of Deportation and Forced Separation on Immigrants, their Families, and Communities.”
“We surveyed the psychological literature, summarizing three decades of research,” Langhout writes by email.
The purpose is to make sense of the data for regular folks, government officials and policy makers, and it was adopted as an official policy statement of the Society for Community Research and Action, a division of the American Psychological Association.
“We also have recommendations for community organizations regarding strategies to mitigate the effects of forced family separation,” she says.
Among its findings are that many of those deported have faced harsh consequences in their country of origin, including torture, rape and murder. Family members left behind struggle with income, housing and food; everyone has to work more, including minors. Legal bills pile up on top of everyday bills. Kids experience eating and sleeping disorders, anxiety, sadness, abandonment, anger; their school performance suffers.
On a wider scale, deportations inflame fear and anxiety in the rest of the community, discourages engagement with health clinics and hospitals, churches and police, elevates risk of suicide and cancer, and lowers work productivity. It seems to drain the spirit out of people.
The policy brief is written with blunt eloquence, cutting through the political theater, exposing the devastation of deportation and forced migration. Langhout will show slides, she’ll talk about immigration raids that happened in Santa Cruz County in February 2017, and a Q&A will follow.
“I would not be surprised if some viewed it as a political talk, as several recommendations in the policy brief are designed to speak to policy makers.”
It’s that part, in which alternatives are recommended, that hope and humanity enter into the document – a ray of light at the end of a dark passage.