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.
Critics of the Obama Administration’s directive say that the report is intended to foster sympathy and an eventual path to citizenship for those illegally present in the United States, or to garner support among the Latino voting population in an election year. Whether that is the case or not, the statistics contained in this latest report are alarming and show the disparity between the Obama Administrations stated goals and what is actually taking place.
While having a USC child does not make one a citizen automatically, the rights of these children need to be considered before deciding to remove their parents to their country of origin. And the effects of such removals need to be further analyzed to determine what effect this will have on our country as a whole in the longterm.
The criminal lawyers and immigration attorneys at Alcock and Associates take pride in being involved in the fight to keep families together, regardless of their status. We are all human beings, after all. For a free consultation on an immigration or criminal matter in Phoenix, Arizona, contact one of our attorneys today or call us at 602-989-5000.