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The imperfect immigration system, which fixing is stalled in the USA Congress, is affecting some of the most vulnerable. Children are caught in the middle of bad laws and policies in life changing ways which are no good news to us.
Two recent news pieces on the issue: Fronteras Desk audio titled “Deportations Adding Thousands of Kids To Foster Care”. Click here to hear the piece.
The think tank Applied Research Center, a racial-justice think tank based in New York, estimates that about 5,000 children who are US citizens are left in foster care. This due to the impact programs like Secure Communities, where local police agencies act as immigration officers, are having in the detention of parents, leaving children behind. The research center estimates one-fourth of the people deported during the first six months of 2011 (46,000) are fathers or mothers of U.S. citizen children.
An article by the Arizona Daily Star “Children of Detained Illegal Crossers are Put in State Custody More Often” quotes a study by the University of Arizona’s law professor Nina Rabin who authored a study called “Disappearing Parents: A Report on Immigration Enforcement and the Child Welfare System”. Ravin says “Child Protective Services often loses track of the parents once they are in the custody of ICE”, therefore many undocumented children end up in CPS and foster care.
Inquired about this research, ICE spokes person stated they “give opportunities for parents to take care of their children and that as policy does not target parents”. We know reality is workers who are parents are often caught on the net of Secure Communities leaving families and children in crisis.
In June 17th , 2011 ICE Chief John Morton issued a memo to all a personnel to guide them through Prosecutorial Discretion (PD) focusing on the agency’s priorities of removing criminal elements from our communities sparing families and workers from deportation. Since then it seems that very little has happened on the implementation of policy that may give respite to immigrants. This article by New York Times’ Julia Preston gives us an inside look at the struggles of interests groups which are blocking the above mentioned directive.
The article explains how the union representing some 7,000 ICE officers has so far not allowed its members to participate in the training to apply Prosecutorial Discretion.
Chris Crane, the president of the National ICE Council, the union that represents deportation ICE agents, has criticized the PD Memo, saying “it amounts to orders from ICE officials for agents not to enforce the law”. Mr. Crane accused the administration, during a testimony in Congress, of tailoring its enforcement practices to win support from immigrant communities for Mr. Obama’s re-election.
Aside from political considerations, reality is tough immigration policies separate families and breaks important fabric of the society.
Read here the original “Morton Memo”.