Well-being and contexts of development of U.S. citizen children in Mexico following parental deportation or voluntary relocation.

Document Type


Publication Date



When undocumented immigrant parents are deported from the United States, they must decide whether or not to take their U.S.-born and undocumented immigrant children with them, often to countries the children have never visited or know little about. Other parents do not wait to be deported by the government and decide to relocate to their home countries with or without their children. Both sets of families experience relocation but under different circumstances. These differences deserve exploration to understand the psychological and emotional effects on children's well-being. In this cross-sectional study, we explored differences in self-concept, internalizing and externalizing behaviors, as well as the perception of the home, school, and neighborhood contexts of 178 U.S. citizen children (USCC) whose parents returned to Mexico forcibly and voluntarily. Through snowball sampling, we recruited the sample from two bordering Mexican states, Michoacán and the State of Mexico. Significant estimated marginal mean differences in internalizing and externalizing behavior problems, unhappiness, as well as parent-child conflict and support were found between USCC who relocated due to a parental deportation and those USCC whose parents relocated to Mexico voluntarily. Implications for clinicians in Mexico and the United States include recognizing the reasons, timing, decisions, events, and contexts of relocation. Findings can help inform immigration policies, practices, and future research.


Copyright © 2024, Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice.

The accepted manuscript version of this article will be publicly available on 03/28/2025

Publication Title

American Journal of Orthopsychiatry