By Raisa Camargo
The number of deportation of parents during the Obama administration is prompting immigration reform advocates to demand that those who were deported be reunited with their families.
More than just the legalization of 11 million persons who are undocumented, FIRM, Fair Immigration Reform Movement composed of an estimated 30 advocacy immigration groups are calling on Congress for family reunification including those persons who were separated from their families.
It was recently highlighted in several news reports including Colorlines that more than 200,000 parents who were removed since 2010 claimed they were parents of a U.S. citizen.
“There are many families who are broken because of the immigration system—many people who are U.S. citizens, many people who are green card holders, they cannot reunify their families because the system is not working well for them,” Gustavo Torres, president of Casa de Maryland—an immigration advocacy organization near the D.C. metro area, told VOXXI.
“The families who have parents or sons who are U.S. citizens—we believe that it’s also a great opportunity to return them to our country. We believe it’s very essential and that’s also part of the family reunification,” said Torres.
The second demand Casa de Maryland is trying to make is that people who are in temporary status or TPS will also be entitled to get a green card. The coalition hopes to highlight the faces behind the struggle in the coming weeks by preparing family members and the more than 100 parents and dreamers to become spokespersons for the media and policymakers.
With the fiscal cliff negotiations facing stiff backlash and the recent shooting in Connecticut that devastated the nation, some supporters are hoping that although the issues raised are important other legislation such as immigration reform shouldn’t get sidelined.
Key members in Congress such as Rep. Luis Gutierrez, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus immigration task force, has insisted on keeping the pressure on the White House.
The deportation of parents needs to be stopped
“As we deal with the ‘fiscal cliff’ and gear up for an immigration reform and legalizing immigrants, we are pushing 90,000 parents of U.S. citizens per year off of the “deportation cliff.” We shouldn’t be deporting parents who we hope to legalize in immigration reform and leaving their children in foster care or in some other limbo,” Rep. Gutierrez told VOXXI in a statement. “Administratively stopping the deportations is an urgent matter that could be a catalyst for permanent, legislative reform, but politicians need to hear from the people.”
Gutierrez indicated that Congress needs to extend the deportation relief of DACA to the parents of U.S. citizens who can show they are productive members of the community.
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, (D- Calif.), who has previously introduced immigration-related measures to halt the deportation of families, said she will continue her efforts in the next Congress.
She will be re-introducing the “Help Separated Families Act.” The bill would prohibit states from petitioning to terminate parental rights based on the deportation or detention of a parent, if other conditions are met. The Congresswoman added that this would protect the legal rights of parents and prevent child welfare agencies from permanently separating children from their parents based on nothing other than immigration status.
The Congresswoman told VOXXI she will push for her measure to form part of the comprehensive immigration reform package.
Some American-born children are being put into foster care because their parents have been deported.
“These are American born children of undocumented parents who are being put in foster care, parents are losing their rights to their children and in some cases, some of these American children are being adopted and parents are losing complete custody,” Roybal-Allard said.
In terms of returning family members who were deported, she said that would have to be looked at case-by-case and specific criteria should be determined. Although, she believes there is a possibility.
“Decisions are being made based on the immigration status of the adults who want to take care of them and that’s wrong,” she said.
More than 46,000 parents of U.S. citizen children were deported from the United States during the first six months of 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Analysts believe that the claims made by FIRM are legitimate, but they should be cautious in how they strategize the campaign outreach. Arnoldo Torres, a policy consultant based in California, who previously worked on immigration reform legislation, indicated that “there are very serious problems” with the immigration system in the United States.
“It’s a fair issue to raise,” said Torres. “Identifying the fact that families have been separated—that should be looked at very seriously and families being reunited that were separated in the last ten to 15 years.”
“What I think you cannot get into is an imperative that people keep thinking that every problem that they’ve identified or that they do identify should be addressed to immigration reform – where do you draw a line?” he said.
According to news reports, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has stated that most of the deportations have involved persons with criminal histories. Last week, an estimated 10,000 letters were sent to Obama and Congress to address the separation of families. Those letters were handed from dozens of children.
“That’s a very important component of our movement,” said Gustavo Torres. “To make sure the families who have been separated are in front demanding comprehensive immigration reform.”
Reprinted from VOXXI News http://www.voxxi.com