Undocumented and Abused: A Texas Case Study of Children in the Child Protective Services System

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Jane Burstain /(512) 320-0222 x119

September 13, 2010

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How to best regulate immigration and treat immigrants—both those lawfully and unlawfully here—are hotly debated questions. To promote responsible action, the center recently proposed a common-sense set of principles to secure our borders and reform our immigration system.1 Now we turn our attention to a much smaller issue, perhaps one on which consensus may be more readily reached: How should the United States deal with undocumented children who are here through no fault of their own and have suffered abuse or neglect? Using Texas as a case study, this paper looks at who these children are and discusses why a blanket policy to send them home will not work. It also discusses how to improve the process through which these children can obtain legal residency. Finally, this paper explains how federal immigration and child welfare law should be aligned to ensure our country acts responsibly and that the federal government provides the necessary financial support to the states to care for this vulnerable population.