Raids Dividing Immigrant Families
Posted Jul 30, 2007 12:17 PM CST
By Martha Neil
As federal authorities amp up their efforts to enforce immigration laws, some immigrant families are facing a tough choice.
Children born in this country are U.S. citizens and have a right to live here. But if their non-citizen parents are here illegally, the adults have to decide whether to leave their children behind if they are deported, reports the St. Petersburg Times.
"One of the most tragic things I've seen is when parents are detained and then their U.S.-born children have been placed in foster care. We are aware of several cases like that in Florida," says Charu al-Sahli of Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center. Frequently, the handover, whether to foster care or a family member or friend, is hurried, so caregivers lack basic information and documents, she says. "Often it is done in a matter of minutes."
Advocates for immigrants say many parents, fearful of deportation, are trying to make advance plans for their children. Proposed legislation, such as the Child Citizen Protection Act, also could help. This bill would give judges more discretion to determine whether parents of American children should be deported.