LatinaLista — Even with all the talk of the fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling, and now renewed demands that Washington do something about gun control, there is still the expectation that immigration reform will be among the top priorities for Obama’s second term.
It has to be.
In light of recently released data, current immigration enforcement procedures are exacting too heavy a toll on tomorrow’s adults of the Latino community. Colorlines reports that the federal government deported over 200,000 undocumented parents of US-born children.
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.
…The data does show a slight decline in the number of parental deportations in the most recently reported three month period. From July until September of this year, ICE deported 20,878 parents, about 10 percent less than average. The overall deportation numbers for August to September of this year have yet to be released however, so it’s impossible to know whether this also marks a decline in the larger rate of deportation.
…One reason for the small decline could be that in recent months, ICE appears to have had less luck getting judges to order the deportation of parents. Before January of this year, ICE was able to obtain deportation orders from immigration judges in 50 to 58 percent of cases. Since April, courts have handed down deportation orders in fewer than 43 percent of cases.
In a couple of ways, the federal government has failed the Latino community when it comes to parent deportations. Firstly, deporting parents, who pose no security or criminal threat to the country, violates Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) John Morton’s 2011 directive .
Secondly, Colorlines reports that in 2009, Congress ordered ICE to specifically gather data on parental deportations starting on July 1, 2010 and release the data every six months. However, ICE hasn’t complied with Congress’ order and has released the data only once — for the first six months of 2011.
It isn’t any wonder that word comes today out of Dallas, Texas that ICE is again ignoring their bosses in Washington and intent on deporting undocumented parents.
The LULAC 102 Dallas Chapter issued a press release about yet another parent deportee: Francisco Javier Arcos-Rivera.
Arcos-Rivera, the father of a 2-year-old with health issues, was taken by ICE this morning at 4 a.m. He was stopped by police in Forest Hills, Texas in November due (allegedly) to a front light that was out on his car. Though his lawyers contend that Arcos-Rivera qualifies to stay in the country under the Morton directive, he was taken anyway.
Now, his lawyers are working frantically to get more time for Arcos-Rivera so they can work on his case and find a judge who will consider the negative impact Arcos-Rivera’s deportation will have on the fragile health condition of his US-born child.
Yet, every child who loses a parent needlessly to deportation is negatively impacted. The separation and the loss of the breadwinner in the family have tremendous emotional ramifications for the children. How the parents were taken from the children can also traumatize children.
For some children, the trauma is carried even further with the children left behind placed in foster care and put up for adoption, even when the deported parents are fighting for custody from their native countries. There have been several cases where US judges have failed these families and have terminated the rights of deported parents, over their objections, in favor of American adoptive parents.
There’s no question that immigration reform is important and vital to the mental health of these children being impacted today by ICE’s actions but what is even more important is that a branch of the federal government fulfills the directives of their bosses in Washington and stops acting like they are the law of the land — when they are only supposed to be enforcing it.