Is there a human element in the immigration reform?

Is there a human element in the immigration reform?

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Earlier this week, in Broadview, Ill., a group of seven courageous individuals protested the high number of deportations under the Obama administration by blocking the doors to the Broadview Detention Facility, which houses detainees and is one of the places where removal orders are carried out.

The group of seven, none of whom hold any type of permanent legal status in the U.S., used pipes, chains, locks and their bodies to block the door.  It seems they were tired of standing idly by while their families, along with thousands of others, are being torn apart by U.S. immigration laws. While Congress is debating Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR), these youth are desperately urging President Obama to halt deportations in case CIR does happen.

Much news coverage has focused on the potential economic consequences of reform rather than the potential societal consequences reform could bring. Perhaps it is easier for some to discuss reform in economic terms because it can be quantified more easily, or because it allows them to ignore the human element inherent in immigration and the devastating emotional consequences the current system has caused many. Young children are especially vulnerable.

Most of my clients and the people I see in removal proceedings have young children born in the United States. In many cases, these people have no way of remaining in this country legally.  The lack of relief is at times due to their criminal history, but often it is due to the amount of time they have lived here, or their inability to prove that if they are not allowed to remain in the U.S., their U.S. citizen children will suffer more than any other child in the same position.

What has resulted is a large number of young U.S. citizens in this country growing up with one or both of their parents absent in their lives. Many of these children are too young to understand why their father or mother is suddenly not there to hug them and put them to bed.  All they know is that their parent(s) left them, often without even having the chance to say goodbye. The emotional effects this has on these children cannot be disregarded.

There is an enormous amount of research that shows that children in families with an absent parent exhibit more violent behaviors and more emotional problems than do children who have both parents in their lives.  Soon, this young generation of U.S. citizens will be grown up and perhaps have families of their own.

The effects of our current immigration system on them and their families cannot be overlooked as a factor that may greatly affect the future of our nation, and it is important that any CIR address this fact.

by Attorney Kate Radder
Radder Immigration Law

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