200,000 More Deportations of Parents

New data on the deportations of the parents ofU.S.citizen children remind us why family unity has to be the cornerstone of the upcoming immigration reform debate in Congress.

Colorlines reports that the “federal government conducted more than 200,000 deportations of parents who said their children are U.S. citizens in a timespan of just over two years…Between July 1, 2010, and Sept. 31, 2012, nearly 23 percent of all deportations—or, 204,810 deportations—were issued for parents with citizen children, according to federal data unearthed through a Freedom of Information Act request.”

Frank Sharry, Executive Director atAmerica’s Voice Education Fund, reacted to the news by saying, “As Colorlines reveals, failed immigration laws and enforcement are destroying the families of hundreds of thousands of American children.  Our government should be in the business of reuniting families, not separating them.  When Congress takes up immigration reform next year, it has to consider the impact on children and take bold steps to ensure our laws strengthen rather than destroy families.”

While the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) frequently claim that that they are focusing their enforcement on the “worst of the worst” – referring to statistics on removals of “criminal aliens” to underscore their point – a closer look at the data and the description belie their claims.  In short, despite the scary-sounding terminology, many of these “criminals” have done nothing worse than run a red light.  See this America’s Voice Education Fund post on April 2012 for more: http://americasvoiceonline.org/blog/ices_less-than-stellar_record_on_prosecutorial_discretion-2/.

Concluded Sharry, “Let’s be clear – since DHS won’t: immigrants get run through the deportation mill for minor offenses as well as major offenses.  Should the punishment for driving without a license be permanent separation from your children?  The answer should be obvious.  We can do better than this.”

“The report hits close to home for too many immigrant youth leaders in our network. Tearing parents away from their children and deporting them to countries thousands of miles away from their families is heartless,” said Myrna Orozco, National Field Director for United We Dream.  “These parents sacrificed so much to give their children a better future and leave us wondering just how many parents of DREAMers, not included in this report, have been deported too.  We’re fighting for them too and we won’t stand by until politicians come together to end these immoral policies and create a path to citizenship for us, our families, and our communities.  There is no question that the  number of people being deported by the Obama Administration must go down dramatically in 2013 – DHS is out of control.”

The Colorlines expose, which uncovered Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data, which should provide policymakers with yet more evidence of the urgent need to work together and fix the broken immigration system and make sure families aren’t torn apart like this.  The report shows that the majority of parents deported had committed no major offense, if any at all, some merely being stopped for a traffic violation.

At the recent United We Dream 2012 National Congress in Kansas City, 600 representatives of America’s 2 million DREAMers pledged to push for policies from politicians that ensure fair treatment and citizenship for DREAMers, their families and communities – including the hundreds of thousands of parents included in the Colorlines report.

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