Immigration Attorneys Fighting to Keep Families Together
One of the primary goals immigration attorneys in removal proceedings have is to keep families together. And a new report indicating that during the first half of 2011, 46,000 parents claiming United States Citizen (USC) children as dependants were deported futher enhances this goal.
While Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said that the government’s emphasis is on deporting those with criminal convictions, President Obama’s directive on Prosecutorial Discretion issued last year states that one of its primary goals is keeping families together. Because of the breadth of the definition of “criminal convictions”, these two policies are often at odds. And when a parent of a USC child is removed from the United States as a result of immigration proceedings, increasing concerns are being raised about the fate of these children.
The report, governed by stats from January through June 2011, is the first time the government has released detailed information on the number of parents of USC children who have been deported.
While the Department has expressed concern over the fate of USC children whose parents have been deported, officials have also stated that the plain fact of the matter is that having a child in and of itself does not bestow citizenship. A 2009 DHS report estimates that over 100,000 parents of USC children have been deported between 1998 and 2007. This statistic may have been the basis of the Obama Administrations memo on prosecutorial discretion issued in 2011, allowing DHS attorneys to review cases in removal proceedings and determine high risk criminal offenders versus people in proceedings based on minor matters such as civil traffic tickets, and administratively close those matters to focus on the more severe criminal offenders in proceedings.