While I applaud the recent change proposed by immigration officials that would allow undocumented close relatives of U.S. citizens to remain in the country while trying to legalize their status, priority must be given to the millions of U.S. citizen children who stand to be separated from their parents if they get deported. According to a 2010 report by the Pew Hispanic Center, there were at least four million citizen children of undocumented immigrants living in the United States as of 2009. That's a lot of children whose lives hang in the balance!

Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) quietly revealed that in the first half of 2011 alone, nearly 46,500 parents of U.S.-born children were deported. 

This is truly disheartening considering the Obama administration has pledged to concentrate in deportations of high-risk offenders while halting those of undocumented immigrants with clean records and strong ties to the country. So, since when is the parent-child relationship not considered a strong tie?

While every parent has the choice to take their children with them once they're forced to leave the country, what happens to the children in the process? In other words, people don't just get deported from one day to the next. They're many times detained while their case is decided. A study by the Applied Research Center, which advocates for immigration reform, reported that more than 5,100 children were living in foster care in January 2012 because their parents were detained or deported. This is truly unacceptable!

And then, even if the parents do decide to take their children with them back to their countries of origin, for many of these kids this is unimaginable since they usually don't speak the language and have a hard time fitting into a culture they know nothing about. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be taken into consideration when deporting the parents of citizen children.

I'm not saying illegal immigration is right, but I see absolutely no point in tearing families apart or destroying the lives men and women have created for their children here in the States. It just doesn't seem to go with everything this country stands for.

Image via SEIU International/flickr

About the author

Roxana A. Soto is Features Editor of MamásLatinas. She's a bilingual and bicultural journalist born in Peru and raised in Mexico, Argentina, South Africa and Miami. She's also mom to a girl in 3rd grade and a boy in Kinder. She loves books, languages, traveling and good food – especially when cooked by someone else.

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