Broken immigration system separating families

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Our broken immigration system has too many harmful consequences for us to count. Breakthrough's #ImHere campaign points to a few of them, making it clear why we need to put an end to Alabama's H.B. 56, Arizona's notorious S.B. 1070 and other copycat laws:

Credit: matti keltanen/ keltanen on Flickr, under Creative Commons
  • separate children from parents indefinitely by deportation or detention, often without due process
  • imprison families in their own homes for fear of police harassment or worse
  • force women to choose between the threat of an abusive husband and the risk of deportation if they call the police
  • trap women and LGBTQ people in immigrant detention centers under constant threat of physical and sexual abuse
  • send pregnant immigrants to give birth in shackles or with ICE agents by their side
  • push immigrant women to work for substandard wages 14% lower than female U.S. citizens and 13% lower than immigrant men
  • drive parents to give power of attorney over their children to friends and neighbors, even employers or landlords, for fear of sudden detention or deportation
  • commit — as of right now — over 5000 children of detained or deported parents to foster care 
  • spawn federal laws and amendments specifically removing freedoms and protections for immigrant women.

Immigrant families shouldn't be hurt and separated like this. Our Strong Families campaign believes that every family should have the rights, recognition and resources it needs to thrive. Here's an excerpt from a very relevant article by Mallika Dutt, originally published by RH Reality Check. Read the full article here.

The War on Immigrant Women: Part of the Sweeping Crusade Against the Fundamental Rights of All Women
by Mallika Dutt, originally published at RH Reality Check

The current attacks on women’s health, sexuality, and self-determination — in states, in GOP debates, on the airwaves, and beyond — are appalling enough. But they are only part of the story. The war on women is even more than an assault on the most basic and personal choices in our lives, even more than an assault on our right to determine if, when and under what circumstances to become mothers. It is also an attack on our essential right to mother — to raise healthy, safe children in healthy, safe families. And on that front, it is immigrant women and women of color who suffer the most.

Laws such as Alabama’s HB 56 and federal enforcement measures such as 287g have injected fear and anguish into even the most routine aspects of many women’s daily lives: going to work or taking kids to school, or seeing the doctor. HB 56 gives police officers sweeping authority to question and detain anyone they suspect of being undocumented, with snap judgments based on skin color -- that is, blatant racial profiling -- accepted as an utterly fair method of determining who to accost. The law also requires school administrators to track the immigration status of their students. It is shocking in its singularity of purpose: to make everyday life so intolerable for undocumented immigrants to the United States that they will, indeed, "self-deport." And already, the consequences for immigrant families have been unspeakably high.

These are families like that of Jocelyn, a fourteen-year-old girl who was sent to live with relatives when it became too dangerous for her mother and father to stay in Alabama. Jocelyn is not alone: a growing number of parents are giving power of attorney over their children to friends, neighbors and employers — even landlords and other near-strangers because the threat of deportation and indefinite detention is just too real. Immigrants in detention are often denied the right to make arrangements for their children or attend family court hearings. Others have been stripped of their parental rights entirely. The Applied Research Center estimates that deportation of parents have left five thousand children currently in foster care.

All this in a climate where worship of "family values" — that is, in reality, certain value placed on certain families — has reached near maniacal proportions. Ask Maria about how this country really values women, babies and families, and she will tell you how harassment by ICE agents — who refused to leave her hospital bedside — nearly led to dangerous labor complications. Ask Juana about giving birth to her son in shackles. Ask Tere about "family values," and she will tell you how she risked everything to bring her son to the United States for life-saving heart surgery. Today, the danger is on our soil: she is so afraid of being picked up and detained that she has stopped taking her son to the medical appointments his condition requires.