RIC Professor Speaks on U.S. Immigrant Human Rights in D.C.

Kalina Brabeck, associate professor of counseling at Rhode Island College, played a vital role in the granting of a public hearing on deportation policies and immigrant rights through a report she co-authored and submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) titled “The Psychological Impact of Detention and Deportation on U.S. Migrant Children and Families.”

The hearing took place in Washington, D.C., at IACHR headquarters, a commission whose mission is to promote and protect human rights in America.

“It feels gratifying as a researcher to have your work make a difference,” Brabeck said.

This report is part of a larger legal brief authored by more than 20 human rights organizations, including the Boston College Post-Deportation Human Rights Project, Immigration Equality, the AFL-CIO and the Center for Justice in International Law. It outlines issues such as toxic stress, fear, anxiety, behavioral and cognitive impacts on migrant adults and children whose families are separated or live in constant fear of separation due to current U.S. deportation policies.

“We talk a lot about family values in this country, but what does it say about us when we have policies that tear families apart?” she asked. “I think if we talk the talk, we should walk the walk.”

Approximately 4.5 million children (U.S. citizens) live in families where at least one member is an unauthorized migrant and could potentially suffer from the psychological problems outlined in this report, Brabeck said.

“When people think of immigrant families they tend to think of them as ‘the other.’ But these children are ours. They are our future workers and community members. I think we should care about them, which means also caring about their parents,” she said.

Following the hearing, Brabeck, along with members of the organizations that helped author the legal brief, engaged in a panel discussion.

“We hope that the U.S. will reconsider its polices with regard to mandatory deportations and will allow more room for judicial discretion and consideration of the impact on families and children in future proceedings,” she said.