As the daughter of a Cuban immigrant father and Puerto Rican mother who grew up speaking Spanish and around immigrants with and without the right paperwork, I am very passionate about the human rights of immigrants. Because I have seen how hard undocumented immigrants work and understand that we ALL benefit from their labor whether they live here or abroad, I am bothered by the vitriol against them, injustices against their humanity, and our refusal even to address the root cause of why so many of them, economic refugees, flee to our country.
I am particularly disappointed at how we have failed to come together to address this humanitarian crisis — I agree with Professor George Lakoff that 11 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants is a humanitarian crisis! – for the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of children in this country who worry every day that their parents will be taken from them.
In the first report of its kind, Applied Research Center (ARC) has found that more than 5,000 children are in the foster care system because their parents have been detained or deported. Considering the record number of deportations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), this number is expected to exceed 15,000 in just five years.
Families in this sad situation have little recourse than to split up. Because ICE detention obstructs the ability for parents to participate in Child Protective Services’ family unification plans, detained parents can actually lose their parental rights.
In light of the upcoming holidays and International Human Rights Day on December 10, the We Belong Together initiative is hosting a letter-writing campaign for children to ask our leaders to consider the devastating impact our immigration enforcement practices are having on families. We can’t think of a sadder holiday for children than to be separated from their parents.
Our goal is to collect 5,000 letters. It may be a simple action, but we hope it will be one of many steps to keep families together and address the humanitarian crisis in our backyard.