Carmen and Leonor faced the cameras today and openly asked why they deserved to pay such a heavy price for wanting to have their children be happy. Both moms are scheduled to be deported within weeks. Sitting next to them, friends and loved ones, including three of their five US-born children, called on Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to grant them a chance of a lifetime to reach their American Dream together as a family.
Thousands upon thousands of US-born citizens will likely spend this Mother’s Day facing an uncertain future and a broken family. According to a March ICE report, 46,486 parents of US-born citizens were deported from the United States during the first half of 2011. In contrast, the New York Times reports that in the decade between 1998 and 2007, nearly 100,000 such parents were deported. An estimated 4 million US-born children have a least one parent who is an unauthorized immigrant.
“We are looking at the fruits of an untenable system that continues to rot. Families with deep roots in the community, hard-working men and women, entire communities are compromised by the blind enforcement machinery that this Administration has failed to stop, despite their continued assurances that more humane policies are forthcoming,” stated Angelica Salas, executive director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.
The rate of humane decision-making by ICE in at least 300,000 deportation cases clogging up the immigration court system has been so dismal, that watchdog Family Unity Commissions have been established in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Los Angeles Commission member, Jessica Dominguez, stated: “It is urgent that we work together to find justice for these families and their US-born citizens. America is the country where these families have flourished and where they hope their children will be happy. Why make these families pay the huge toll of banishment?”
Rosemary Allegra, an American of Italian descent, just learned that her friend Carmen has been wearing an electronic ankle bracelet during the past 8 months and may soon be deported. “It makes me angry to know she has been treated this way. This is for bad people and by God she is not a bad person. Her family is very loving, hard-working, and they have reared their children the right way, trying to live the American way,” she adds.
As to the Commission’s urgent petition to keep families together, “Our request is for humane policies to be adhered-to and it has nothing to do with election-year politics. We have to care more about human life and family unity than political survival and party harmony,” said Ms. Salas.