What has happened to our great country, a country that welcomed millions of immigrants from around the world, into America with open arms?
We are a nation of immigrants, yet now we evicting people by the thousands who are just trying to become Americans.
“This Administration is deporting more than 1,000 immigrants every day. It’s time to stop the practice of tearing families apart. President Obama can and should act immediately to halt deportations,” said Eva Castillo of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees.
Nearly two million people have been deported since Obama has taken office. These are people with families, some who have children who are legally American citizens.
“According to estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center, there are 4 million U.S.-born children in the United States with at least one parent who is an unauthorized immigrant, plus 1.1 million children who are themselves unauthorized immigrants and have unauthorized-immigrant parents. Moreover, Department of Homeland Security estimates that nearly three-fifths of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the United States for more than a decade. In other words, most of these people are not single young men, recently arrived, who have no connection to U.S. society. These are men, women, and children who are already part of U.S. society.”
(Research from the Immigration Policy Center)
However the legal status of the children does not seem to make much of a difference to the government who is deporting them.
“New Hampshire people are raising our voices in support of our immigrant brothers and sisters who simply want to work hard and be with their families. We say ‘Not one more deportation,’ ” said Maggie Fogarty of the American Friends Service Committee’s NH Program.
Image by Arnie Alpert / AFSC-NH
On April 5th, the AFSC, the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, and the Immigration Working Group of the United Church of Christ NH Conference held a rally in Nashua, NH calling for an “end to deportations.”
Here is just one example from the Nashua rally of how the current deportation policy is literally ripping families apart.
“Octavio, a native of Mexico, said immigration police took him from his home while he was giving his little girl a bath. When he was deported, his family hoped to reunite in Mexico, but the grave illness of his youngest child forced his wife to return with the girl for medical treatments. After substantial effort, Octavio was able to overcome what was initially a ten-year ban on re-entry to the USA and win a temporary visa to join his own family, all of whom are US citizens.” (Dozens Call for End to Deportations at Nashua Rally, AFSC Blog)
“Immigration enforcement greatly increases the chances that families will never see each other again,” said Rinku Sen President of Applied Research Center. “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.”
A report from the Applied Research Center (2011) conservatively estimates that there are more than 5,000 children currently living in foster care whose parents have been either detained or deported.
“The Obama Administration is deporting the very people who would qualify for the legalization we are fighting for,” said Maggie Fogarty.
Fogarty pointed out that the US Congress has mandated that 34,000 immigrant prison beds be kept full, at a cost to taxpayers of $164 a day. With many of those cells in privately owned prisons and others in county lock-ups that have grown to depend on the flow of federal dollars, the detention bed mandate serves as a driving factor behind detentions and deportations.
John Sandweg, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told the New York Times, “We are fulfilling the mandate.”
“We call on Congress to stop funding the detention bed mandate,” stated Fogarty.
Due to policies like the detention bed mandate and others, the Department of Homeland Security (Border Patrol) budget has grown immensely. “The annual budget of the Border Patrol has increased ten-fold, from $363 million in FY 1993 to $3.5 billion in FY 2013.”
We must act now to stop the deportations, and pass meaningful immigration reforms.
“The House of Representatives should vote on the bipartisan Senate immigration bill that passed overwhelmingly nine long months ago,” stated AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Since the U.S. Senate voted 68-32 last June in support of a bipartisan bill to address our long-standing immigration crisis, America has suffered more than 250,000 deportations, and House Republicans have made a partisan decision not to allow that bill a single up or down vote.”
“At the same time as we fight to end House Republican stalling, we will continue to push the Administration to take broad executive action to relieve the ongoing deportation crisis for millions of workers,” continued Trumka.
As a government agency, the Department of Homeland Security must follow any executive orders issued from the President. This means that with the stroke of his pen, President Obama could say “no more deportations.”
Will President Obama do the right thing to keep families together, while they wait for Congress to take action and pass a real immigration bill?