A few months ago, ThinkProgress shared the story of Felipe Montes, a father who was deported from the country and forced to separate from his son, a U.S. citizen. Montes’s wife, also a citizen, struggled without her husband’s income, and eventually her children were taken into the custody of the state.
On Friday, a North Carolina judge will likely terminate his parental rights, and Felipe will never see his son again. The Montes’s case is not rare; other families have reported similar plights, and new data confirms that such stories are common.
In just six months, between January 1 and June 30 of 2011, over 46,000 parents of U.S. citizens have been deported from the United States, according to a report (PDF) issued, without any analysis or commentary, by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Many of the children left behind are stranded in foster care. Indeed, the Applied Research Council (ARC) estimates “that there are at least 5,100 children currently living in foster care whose parents have been either detained or deported.” They continue:
This is approximately 1.25 percent of the total children in foster care. If the same rate holds true for new cases, in the next five years, at least 15,000 more children will face these threats to reunification with their detained and deported mothers and fathers. These children face formidable barriers to reunification with their families.
But this rate of deportation is indeed new. Between 1998 and 2007, over the course of 9 years (PDF), a total of 100,000 parents of U.S. citizens were deported. At the current rate, the Obama Administration will reach that number in just over one year.
There have been a record number of deportations under President Obama. New directives from the President have instructed ICE to provide some administrative relief, using their prosecutorial discretion to focus on only undocumented criminals, but such numbers will not be reflected until ICE’s next report.