Last week the Applied Research Center (ARC) released a report focusing on the “perilous intersection of immigration enforcement and the child welfare system.” The report, entitled Shattered Families, examines the impact of detention and deportation on the U.S. citizen children left behind. Here is some important information included in the report:
- At least 5,100 children who are currently in foster care have parents that have been deported, are being detained, or are in removal proceedings. The report determined that the problem is becoming even worse due to the expansion of local enforcement programs such as 287(g) and Secure Communities.
- In the first six months of 2011, the federal government removed more than 46,000 parents of U.S. citizen children.
- Without changes to the system, ARC estimates that 15,000 more children will suffer the same fate in the next 5 years.
- Immigrant victims of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence are at particular risk of losing their children.
LIRS has consistently called on Congress and the Administration to reform the immigration system to protect children and ensure family unity. Luckily, some members of Congress are paying attention.
In July 2011, Senator Franken (D-MN) and Representative Woolsey (D-CA-6) introduced the Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections (HELP) for Separated Children Act (S. 1399 / H.R. 2607), legislation that would implement much needed reforms in existing protocols to protect children, families and communities from the unintended consequences of immigration enforcement. LIRS endorsed the bill and has worked very closely with these two offices to promote the bill in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
In addition, last week Representatives Stark (D-CA-13) and Becerra (D-CA-31) introduced the Foster Children Opportunity Act (H.R. 3333), legislation that would help identify children in foster care who may be eligible for permanent immigration relief. Early identification is integral for ensuring that these vulnerable youth can continue to pursue their educational and work opportunities in the United States. LIRS President Linda Hartke sent a letter to both members of Congress to applaud them for their leadership.
Don’t forget … we still need your help!
- Call your members of Congress at 202-224-3121 and ask them to support the HELP for Separated Children Act (S. 1399 / H.R. 2607) and the Foster Children Opportunity Act (H.R. 3333). Let us know how the calls went. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Take a stand with LIRS and show your support for compassionate immigration reform that keeps families together and restores the trust in our communities.
- Email us at email@example.com to let us know what additional information resources you need to continue advocating for children and families.