Children are often a factor that gets forgotten in discussions over immigration and deportation in this country. In reality, the sad truth is that many of the individuals who are deported from the United States have children that remain in the country, thus tearing the family apart.
Recently, the immigrant advocacy group Colorlines published information it obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request on this heartbreaking issue. According to the information, Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed more than 200,000 immigrants since 2010 who said they were parents of children who remained in the United States.
Overall, deportations of people who said they were parents of children who are United States citizens accounted for 23 percent of the removals since 2010. While it is easy to gloss over the "200,000" and "23 percent" figures as just numbers, it's important to remember that they represent the faces of many innocent children who have lost their parents.
In effort to make this point to top administrators, the "Wish for the Holidays" campaign delivered approximately 10,000 letters from children who were separated from their parents through deportation to members of Congress and the President of the United States. The letters asked the officials to stop tearing families apart through deportation.
In the wake of the media attention, ICE released a statement saying that many of the immigrant parents who were deported had criminal records, though ICE did not provide any official figures. The statement did say ICE is "sensitive to the fact that encountering those who violate our immigration laws may impact families."
Additionally, ICE pointed out that it now uses "prosecutorial discretion" in deportation cases, often releasing individuals for humanitarian reasons, including a non-criminal alien being the sole caregiver of minor.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Deportation: More Than 200,000 Parents Removed Who Say They Have A U.S. Citizen Child Since 2010," Roque Planas, Dec. 17, 2012