The Economic Dimensions of Family Separation

Stephen Lee
Date of Publication: 
December, 2021
Source Organization: 

The amount of remittances from migrants greatly outpaces the amount of foreign aid given by the United States, with China, India, Mexico and the Philippines being the highest remittance-receiving countries. The Economic Dimensions of Family Separation focuses on the impact of anti-money laundering policies, which work in tandem with antimigration policies to regulate and hinder the movement of money, greatly hurting the livelihood of separated migrants Migrants from countries fighting terrorism, as well as migrants who are deemed too risky for bank accounts, are at greater risk for having their remittances disrupted. The article further examines the role of private actors and intermediaries in the anti-laundering system, as the laws work to coerce businesses to report and keep track of suspicious activity. The authors also discuss the role that remittance plays in binding transnational family ties, as many migrants are barred from physical ties due to antimigration policies and instead rely on remittances to remain an “absent presence” in family lives. As legal scholars have largely avoided discussion of these aspects of the remittance system, this article offers an important but overlooked perspective on this subject. (Stephanie Depauw)


Lee, S. (2021). The Economic Dimensions of Family Separation. Duke Law Journal, 71, 845-906.