There are so many forms of racism and social oppression being carried out in America, it just boggles the mind. This morning, I posted on Facebook a link to an article that details sad facts about a practice I first learned about from a Nightline TV news show report “Stolen Babies”, a court-sanctioned family destruction that has been going on for way too many years. I linked to a Colorlines story on families being shattered when immigration officials detain or deport parents who work hard and abide laws, except that they lack legal United States residency status – a holy grail that is impossible for so many immigrants to obtain. Colorlines tells us,
Clara says she was jolted awake by the sound of banging and yelling. A group of uniformed officers, some marked with ICE, for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and others DEA, for Drug Enforcement Administration, burst through the door … The agents put Clara in handcuffs, while two of the officers began walking and carrying the children out of the trailer. Clara pleaded with them, asking what they would do with her children. “We’re taking them where we take all the kids,” Clara remembers one of the agents saying. She begged them to let her call a friend who could come pick up the children. The agents refused.
The Nightline show follows the sad history of how Guatemalan Citizen Encarnación Bail Romero, was separated from her son, Carlos, whom a court authorized a White American couple to adopt. On July 17, 2012 Ms. Romero’s parental rights were permanently terminated by a Missouri judge, who ruled – as other judges have ruled in similar cases – that Ms. Romero was a negligent mother for having lived in the United States as an illegal immigrant, and for failing to be with her son during the time Ms. Romero was behind bars in jail for that crime (and no other), a legal state which that judge ruled was “abandonment” of her parental duties. More on that story here.
Another example of why we need immigration reform so badly, is the case of eleven year old Alexis Molina. Although Alex wasn’t given to an adoptive family and he, his siblings and his father are all US citizens, immigration rules effectively bar Alex’ mom from being at his side.
Alexis Molina was just 10 years old when his mother was abruptly cut out of his life and his carefree childhood unraveled overnight … Gone were the egg-and-sausage tortillas that greeted him when he came home from school, the walks in the park, the hugs at night when she tucked him into bed.
His father asks, “How can my country not allow a mother to be with her children, especially when they are so young and they need her,” Rony Molina asks, “and especially when they are Americans?”
The Huffington Post report covering this story continues:
Behind the statistics are the stories: a crying baby taken from her mother’s arms and handed to social workers as the mother is handcuffed and taken away, her parental rights terminated by a U.S. judge; teenage children watching as parents are dragged from the family home; immigrant parents disappearing into a maze-like detention system where they are routinely locked up hundreds of miles from their homes, separated from their families for months and denied contact with the welfare agencies deciding their children’s’ fate.
(Some), including Obama, say splitting up families is wrong.
“Quiet, slow-motion tragedies unfold every day … as parents caught up in immigration enforcement are separated from their young children and disappear,” Nina Rabin, an associate clinical professor of law at the University of Arizona, wrote last year in “Disappearing Parents: A Report on Immigration Enforcement and the Child Welfare System.”
The mother of a paralyzed boy who illegally entered the US to seek better medical care for her son, was arrested and her
parental rights (were) terminated by an Arizona court after a judge ruled that she had failed to make progress towards reunification with her children – something Rabin said was impossible to do, locked away for months without access to legal counsel or notifications from the child welfare agency.
In Congress, California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard has proposed legislation that would make it more difficult for local agencies to terminate the parental rights of immigrants. She calls it “heartbreaking … that in the U.S., immigration status in itself has become grounds to permanently separate families.” It is, she said, “absolutely, unquestionably inhumane and unacceptable, particularly for a country that values family and fairness so highly.”
With President Obama capturing 71% of the Latino vote the year following recently enacted measures for two immigration relief programs, it has become quite clear in the national social/political arena that immigration reform is a highly valued commodity in the United States. Obama first issued an executive order directing ICE to stop the practice of detaining law abiding, undocumented persons in order to focus their attention instead, on pursuing and deporting criminals charged with serious crimes. And, he recently authorized the Deferred Action program which grants DREAM Act youth two years of legal status during which they can qualify for in-district tuition rates at state and community colleges, obtain driver’s license and work legally in the United States, privileges previously beyond the reach of most DREAMers as they reached age of majority and graduated from high school – without regard for how good their grades had been or how exemplary were the “citizenship” qualities they exhibited throughout their lives.
Economics is another good reason that immigration reform makes sense. In places like Florence, Arizona, the overall American public is paying good money for towns to reap the benefit of aggressive immigrant detention policies. In Florence:
… which has a prison population of more than 17,000, plus 7,800 residents who are not behind bars – more than 40 percent of the local government’s general fund comes from state revenues directly related to housing inmates, according to Jess Knudson, the deputy town manager. That has allowed the local government to offer highly popular services for seniors and build skate parks, dog parks and little league fields throughout town.
CCA pays the county government based on the number of inmates in one of its prisons in Pinal, as part of an agreement to operate in the county. Last year that amounted to roughly $1.4 million, according to county budget documents … Under an agreement with the federal government, the office acts as an enforcement agent on immigration law, arresting violators and referring them to federal authorities…
The American people have the opportunity to put all this waste of lives and money to rest by supporting comprehensive immigration reform. And, while we wait for the wheels of government to slowly grind out the details of how that will work, please consider donating money to The Florence Project, which is assisting immigrants detained in Arizona jails. The Florence Project:
…provides and coordinates free legal services and related social services to indigent men, women, and unaccompanied children detained in Arizona for immigration removal proceedings. The Project strives to ensure that detained individuals have access to counsel, understand their rights under immigration law, and are treated fairly and humanely by our judicial system.