A heartbreaking new report by the Applied Research Center reveals that at least 5,100 American children have been stranded in the foster care system after their undocumented immigrant parents were detained or deported:
Between January and June of 2011, the United States carried out more than 46,000 deportations of the parents of U.S.-citizen children, according to previously unreleased federal data…The figures reflect a striking increase in the rate of removals of parents and raise serious concerns about the impact of these deportations on children, many of whom are left behind. [...]
[T]he Applied Research Center has also found a disturbing number of children languishing in foster care and separated from their parents for long periods. After a year-long national investigation, we estimate there are at least 5,100 children in foster care who face barriers to family reunification because their mother or father is detained or deported. That number could reach as high as 15,000 in the next five years, at the current rate of growth. [...]
If rates of parental deportation remain steady in the year to come, the country will remove about as many parents in just two years as it did in the ten-year period ICE tracked previously.
The report illustrates that the U.S.’s mass deportations of nonviolent immigrants don’t just hurt those who are undocumented — they tear apart families and strain public resources caring for children who should be with their parents.
In August, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would suspend deportation proceedings against many undocumented immigrants who pose no threat to national security or public safety. But that policy has been applied unevenly, and thousands of families continue to be needlessly separated.
President Obama recently commented on the tragic consequence of his administration’s immigration enforcement practices. Obama reportedly said that parents should have access to their children if they are detained and that he has directed the Department of Homeland Security to examine its family unification practices to ensure that happens.