Study: After SB 1070, More High School Students Live Alone
September 30, 2011

PHOENIX -- A study by the University of Arizona's James E. Rogers College of Law finds that even though the majority of SB 1070's provisions were never enacted, its mere passage contributed to an increase in what researchers call "social disruption." Among other things, the report notes an increase in the number of high school students now living without their parents.

The report surveyed 70 students, parents, and teachers in Pima County, and concludes that the message of the law was enough to incite a wave of departures out of Arizona. State Representative and SB 1070 co-author John Kavanagh said this was in fact the impetus behind the law.

"The intended outcome was to have illegal immigrants and their families return to where they are legal residents," Kavanagh said.

But law professor Nina Rabin says in many cases her researchers found only half of that intended outcome came true. At least in this limited survey, when migrants moved out of Arizona, they often left their children behind to finish school in the U.S.

"And very often the people who are left behind might be citizens," Rabin said. "And they've lost their parents, so that's both financial and emotional and social support."

In situations where the students are also in the country illegally, researchers say these students often cannot find an after-school job to financially support themselves.

"There was no food, no food in the home," said Sylvia Loustaunau, a counselor at Sunnyside High School in Tucson, about one student's situation. "Rent and light were paid, but the parent could not come back to provide any food."

The parent now lives in Nogales, Mexico. Loustaunau is partnering with local agencies to help provide food boxes for the student and her three younger siblings - a service the family did not need when their father lived with them in Arizona.

Asked if situations like this were the intended outcome of SB 1070, Kavanagh said: "I think that's pretty sad. I would take my children with me back to my home country."