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ICE’s legacy: creating foster children through deportation

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s job is to deport people who are in the United States without authorization.

Unfortunately, the consequences of ICE doing its job result in preposterous and deplorable violations of  basic human decency.

For example, according to immigration impact:

report released this week reveals yet another devastating consequence of the enforcement-only approach to immigration—a startling number of children whose parents have been detained and deported are placed in foster care and face enormous barriers reuniting with their families. According to the Applied Research Center, 1 in 4 people deported in FY 2011 (nearly 100,000 people) left behind a U.S. citizen child. The report found that the odds of reuniting the families are so low that the parents “basically fall off the face of the earth when it comes to the child welfare system.” Sadly, because of the regular increase in the number of annual deportations, this number is expected to triple in the next five years.

The report, titled Shattered Families, found that:

  • An estimated 5,100 children, currently living in foster care, have detained or deported parents. Nearly 15,000 more children are expected in the next five years.
  • In the first six months of 2011, ICE deported 46,000 parents of U.S. citizen children, or 1 in 4 of all deportation cases.
  • In areas where the local police act as immigration enforcement in collaboration with ICE, children in foster care were 29% more likely to have a detained or deported parent. The study found that
  • Secure Communities has created “deportation hot spots” with increased numbers of children in foster care.

Immigrant victims of domestic and gender-based violence are at a significantly greater risk of losing their children. 1 in 9 cases studied involved domestic violence.

Obviously, as an immigration attorney, I believe the policy of deportation does not benefit society in any manner.  Sure, one could harp on about how the “integrity” of U.S. immigration law must be upheld through enforcement.

But lest one forget: almost every politician to ever speak on immigration, from the left or right, has declared the system “broken.” Most agree that the U.S. immigration system must be reformed, whether that involves a mile-high border wall, a legalization of the undocumented already here, or a combination of the two.

Despite almost every one concurring that the system is “broken”, ICE plods on, deporting immigrants in a haphazard manner, never able to come close to deporting the millions that are here. In their ineffective enforcement, many concrete negative consequences arise, such as destruction of families and the oft-tied destruction of lives that accompanies the latter.

As snapshots of the rubble left by President Obama’s immigration enforcement policy continue to reach the public’s eye, one can surmise that the president’s chances of maintaining the Latino support he had so much of in the 2008 campaign will decrease dramatically.

Hopefully, this dose of reality–that elected leaders mostly just care about elections and not the policies they are elected for–will spur those who believe in immigration reform to vote for a candidate who is not a Republican or Democrat.

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