All over the country families are living in fear. They find themselves in a situation which occurs when a parent who is in the United States illegally faces deportation proceedings, throwing the entire family into turmoil. Because often times the children of these illegal immigrants were born in the United States, making them legal U.S. citizens, questions about the children’s status immediately and automatically arise, with no clear answers to be found. The parents’ deportation hearings threaten to do the unthinkable: force a U.S. citizen apart from their foreign born parents. These kinds of situations are happening throughout the United States, even causing immigrants in Austin to seek immediate legal counsel regarding their situations.
According to the Washington Post the Obama Administration has deported more than 1 million undocumented immigrants over the past 3 years. Additionally, the paper says that 150,000 U.S. citizen children saw a parent deported in fiscal 2012. Now the children themselves are urging action. The Washington Post piece cites the case of Jorge Penate, a Guatemalan illegal immigrant who has lived in the U.S. since 1997. In 2011 he was detained for drunken driving, setting up a 2014 deportation hearing. Penate’s son Jason wrote a letter to immigration officials pleading that they allow his father to stay.
Other children have taken their pleas directly to Congress, with a group of youngsters recently delivering thousands of letters to Congress, asking that something be done about the situation.
In response to the situation immigration officials at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency have been given discretion in handling the cases of otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants. According to an August 2012 directive issued by the acting director of the agency, ICE agents may use the so-called the “parental interest directive” in order to settle cases with the best welfare of the children in mind.
Opponents of legalizing illegal immigrants claim that the government cannot simply provide “amnesty” to law breakers. They claim that there must be consequences for breaking the law. They say that allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the country without going through the proper legal channels would send a bad signal to others who are thinking of entering the U.S. illegally. They also say that this would be unfair to those who have decided to follow the proper path to legal entry into the United States.
It is clear that this is an issue which stokes passions on all sides. No one wants children to become caught up in the middle of a legal battle. But, with the current status of U.S. immigration law there is no viable alternative to these kinds of case-by-case decisions. The status quo really does not fulfill the interests of anyone involved: the level of deportation will not settle the issue, but is high enough to cause fear in the hearts of millions of families across the nation.
Lyttle Law Firm is a firm of dedicated immigration attorney in Austin, Texas. If you or anyone you know needs help with any kind of immigration issue, please contact us immediately at 512-215-5225.