LatinaLista — One aspect of illegal immigration that doesn’t get the coverage it deserves, but for many immigrant advocates is the heart and soul of the push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, is what happens to the children of undocumented immigrants.
On February 4, the Urban Institute released the study Facing Our Future: Children in the Aftermath of Immigration Enforcement.
The study deals with the emotional, physical and economic impact that the removal, arrest and detention of an undocumented parent has on the children in the family.
Today, there are an estimated 5.5 million children with unauthorized immigrant parents, about three-quarters of whom are U.S.-born citizens.
By one estimate, in the last 10 years, over 100,000 immigrant parents of U.S. citizen children have been deported from the United States.
The findings of the study are not new nor surprising. In fact, it makes sense that children would have behavioral problems, experience food insecurity, fears of homelessness, fear of never seeing a parent again and even depression if they had a parent, especially who was the main breadwinner, picked up by Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and carted off never to be seen for months.
What the study does accomplish by profiling 190 children in 85 families in six different towns and cities, that experienced hardship after well-publicized immigration raids, is shed further light on a disturbing injustice.
The fact is these children have the potential to contribute much to this country, as their parents already do by working, living and spending their money in their local communities. It is shameful, as well as frightening, that those children who are U.S. citizens are so easily dismissed by our government without any effort to explore ways to allow them to stay united with their families.
The study tells of how towns were decimated after immigration raids because the target employer happened to be the main source of jobs in that town and the workers arrested and deported were that community’s best residents.
The study’s authors offer viable solutions to prevent families from being separated and subjecting these children to such emotional and economic traumas. They are measures that can, for the most part, be implemented without the passage of an immigration bill in Congress — because they address the human side of this complex issue which encompasses a common sense approach to safeguarding the welfare and well-being of children.
It is an objective that every industrialized country claims to honor.
It’s time the United States honored it as well.