Thursday, November 3, 2011

New figures: Disturbing rise in citizen children separation

Posted By on November 3, 2011, 12:36 PM

Several years ago, I followed a Mexican grandmother for several weeks as she struggled to navigate the courts and Utah's Department of Children and Family Services in a quest to take her grandchild back to Mexico. New federal data, according to a story today, shows that her granddaughter is one of a disturbing, growing number of citizen children placed in foster care because of the current deportation policy.---

In the first six months of this year, according to an article by Seth Freed Wessler on Colorlines.com, 46,000 parents of citizen children were deported from the United States. That figure represents 22 percent of all people deported, compared to 8 percent of deportees between 1998 and 2007, when these figures were last kept. You can read the story here.

Unfortunately, there is no data available as to the number of children those 46,000 parents left behind, nor the psychological and emotional impact that enforced separation had. The Applied Research Center estimates there are 5,100 children in foster care who face barriers to reunification because their parents are being held by ICE or have been deported.

This is an issue that not only vexes folks at Colorlines. The LDS Church, when it came out in support of Utah Compact -- a pro-immigrant document endorsed by many community leaders -- noted the impact of deportation on parents of citizen children. "Forced separation of working parents from their children weakens families and damages society," runs part of the statement. You can read the full statement here.

In the case of Rosaura Garcia-Murillo, she has been back in Mexico for several years, since her ill-fated attempt to get her granddaughter back from Utah's judicial and adoption system. You can read her story here and the sad aftermath here.

Currently, artist and anti-gang advocate Jesus Silva, whose story played a part in a recent City Weekly cover feature, Tainted Saint, waits in a Utah county jail to see if friends and family can raises money for him to be bailed out or whether on Monday he will face a deportation hearing before Judge Dustin Pead.

Silva has three citizen children, and if he fails to secure bail, he then faces the possibility of not seeing his children for many years. At least in his case, his wife is an American citizen, which ensures they will not be placed in a foster-care situation, ultimately to be adopted by a white family, as was the case for Garcia-Murillo's granddaughter.

One of the darkest ironies to this broken immigration system is alluded to in a comment at the end of the Colorlines piece: "When someone notes that once the children are old enough, as adults they can bring their parents back." Which begs the question, why do so many parents -- those who do not have criminal backgrounds, particularly -- need to be so brutally split from their own offspring?

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