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Sociologist Weighs in on Immigrant Family Separations — Including Social and Economic Impacts


Image by Fir4ik/Shutterstock.com


By Linda Coutant

Dr. Cameron Lippard in Appalachian State University’s Department of Sociology researches immigration and Latino incorporation into the American South.

Deportations of individuals and families, particularly those immigrating from Central and South America, have been on a steady rise since 2008 — and while separation of families and children is not a new phenomenon, application of the law is harsher than in the past, he said.

“Recent separations of families and children is a matter of discretion allowed in the interpretation of immigration laws. The U.S. Attorney General and the president have sent down their views on this matter, which have led to ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) to apply these laws in harsher ways than practices in the past,” he said.

What is the impact of recent family separations?

“My research suggests that, locally and regionally, this new interpretation of the law has further isolated families from being in public and sending their children to various school functions and summer activities. In short, families are again hiding from persecution even though they may be legally or illegally in the country,” Lippard said.

“On an economic front, the practice of separating children from their parents has always added more strain on limited social services to protect and assist these families. In other words, because of these separations, local, regional, and national efforts to adequately provide a safe and healthy life have been left to law enforcement who are not trained in working with family needs.”

On July 1, Lippard will become interim chair of Appalachian’s Department of Sociology. This fall, he also will be the new senior editor for Sociation Today, the open access research journal of the North Carolina Sociological Association. He recently published the book “War: Contemporary Perspectives on Armed Conflicts around the World” with co-authors Dr. Pavel Osinsky of Appalachian and Dr. Lon Strauss of Marine Corps University.


Dr. Cameron Lippard. Photo by Marie Freeman