President Obama’s recent acknowledgment to Latino journalists that U.S. immigration policies that break up families are a “problem” is an important step in continued reform of federal procedures regarding citizenship, visas, green cards and removal. On the other side of the aisle, Republican candidate Newt Gingrich’s recent acknowledgment that it is not in America’s best interests to separate families reveals the basic common sense underlying this issue.
These admissions come on the heels of the release of the Applied Research Center’s “Shattered Families” report, which determined that more than 5,000 children are in foster care in the U.S. because their parents were deported. The ARC characterizes the study as the first focused review of the effect of immigration enforcement on the child welfare system.
The study used data obtained from the Department of Homeland Security under the Freedom of Information Act to reveal that over 46,000 parents of American-born children were deported in the first six months of fiscal year 2011. In the Los Angeles are alone, 1,496 parents of American children received final removal orders.
The research suggests that another 15,000 children will enter foster care over the next five years under current United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policies, meaning that many more parents will be excluded from care and custody decisions regarding their children. ARC President Rinku Sen roundly condemned the fact that U.S. immigration policy contributes to families being separated: “Detaining and deporting parents shatters families and endangers the children left behind. It’s unacceptable, un-American, and a clear sign that we need to revisit our immigration policies.”
While President Obama’s recent executive order halting “low priority” deportations was welcome news to many immigrant families, the ARC report notes that removal proceedings are taking place at record levels. In the latest fiscal year, the U.S. deported nearly 400,000 individuals, with a similar number of detentions.
Immigrant parents and other people concerned about separation from loved ones can learn about their immigration law options from a removal relief and deportation defense lawyer.