April 21, 2012
More evidence: deporting parents hurts kids

Photo: A child awaits his parents deportation in Charlotte, NC in September 2011. Members of Iglesia Buen Pastor in Raleigh claim they were harassed by Border Patrol agents who arrested them during a traffic stop in Louisiana in 2010. Video of the case here.

First, I’d like to quickly note that there is a direct correlation between my absence during the past several weeks and the editing lockdown that I’ve been under while working to get the next phase of this project completed. Expect the launch of theundocumentary.com and the release of “The Fighter,” a new documentary about NC Dream Team activist and luchadora Alicia Torres-Don, early next month. Updates and teasers to come during the next couple weeks. 

This New York Times op-ed caught my eye this morning about deportations and kids. It seemed obvious enough: deporting a parent will screw up a child. But the extend of the harm and the high rate of such an occurrence is something that is just now gaining mainstream attention in the press. 

The piece, co-authored by Hirokazu Yoshikawa, the academic dean at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a developmental and community psychologist, reinforces what we already know about the deportation issue, however it pushes our understanding of the potential impact that this policy has on harming our country. Take this language, for example:

Having a parent ripped away permanently, without warning, is one of the most devastating and traumatic experiences in human development.

Consider that quote: “one of the most devastating and traumatic experiences.” To me, that puts deportation somewhere between a divorce and a death. Death.

And then there is the data:

From January to June 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed 46,486 undocumented parents who claimed to have at least one child who is an American citizen.

In contrast, in the entire decade between 1998 and 2007, about 100,000 such parents were removed.

Let the logic game begin. We should question why we, as a nation, are deporting such incredible numbers of parents, many whose children are U.S. citizens, when we know that such actions are victimizing the children?

This makes President Barack Obama’s visit to the UNC-Chapel Hill campus next Tuesday  for a talk about education that much more opportune. His speech is focused on students loans. But with a growing community of undocumented DREAM Act-eligible youth in North Carolina, questions must aught to be asked: What do we gain by having a quota of 400,000 deportations annually? And why has ICE not heeded Obama’s directive for prosecutorial discretion/the Morton Memo and not deported noncriminals?  

About half of these deportations are of noncriminal parents who likely were detained at a traffic stop or riding a Greyhound bus. Aside from your view on why immigrants come to the United States, and what they take/contribute to our society, it is time to test our moral compass and ask ourselves if we, as a country, want to have a role in separating families for noncriminal actions. 

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