When Parents Get Deported Citizen Children Fight to Survive

Latino America has a story “When Parents Get Deported Citizen Children Fight to Survive,” by Erynn Elizabeth Reitmayer, which is well worth reading.  More than 5 million children currently live in the United States with at least one undocumented parent. Close to 75 percent of those children are U.S. citizens. When one or both parents are deported, children often have to choose between living with their immediate family — in another country — or living without them in the United States.

The following are just a few of the stories featured in Erynn Elizabeth Reitmayer’s Latino American article:

BORN IN THE AIR?

Kendrick Nunez, 18, is one of those citizen children who would be affected if the “anchor baby” bill became law. He and his citizen sister currently live in Arkansas without their parents, who were deported to Mexico. He finds the logic of the movement confusing.

“That seems unreasonable. What, you’re just born in the air?” Nunez says. “I recognize there is a problem, but there has to be a better solution.”

Nunez and his younger sister initially followed their parents and other siblings to Mexico but returned to the United States so they could continue studying within the American education system.

“I didn’t go to school when I was in Mexico. I spent my time working — in a car wash, a water park, a field,” Nunez said. “I was illegal there. All my best friends in Arkansas were graduating. I felt like I was missing out on something.”

PARENTS DEPORTED, CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE

Because Christopher’s only legal parent, his citizen father, was unable to be his guardian, he accompanied his mother back to Mexico as a young child. When a citizen child is left in this situation — either because both parents are deported or a legal parent is unable to take custody — they often end up staying with relatives who have legal status, entering public foster care or wandering homeless. Complications surrounding a parent’s ability to come to the United States after they have been deported can make it difficult, or impossible, for some deported parents to regain their parental rights, meaning that their children can be put in foster care for long periods of time or put up for adoption.

Such was the case for Nathaly Perez’s mother, who was deported in June 2008, leaving her three teenage daughters behind.

Perez, now 18, was born in San Diego to a large family with varying immigration status. Her parents and four older siblings were all born in Mexico. Nathaly’s sister Eralia, now 19, was just over a year old when the Perez family moved the to the United States. Her two older brothers and eldest sister were nearly grown. Over the next two years, her mother had Nathaly and another daughter.

Although Perez’s father immigrated legally, his status was revoked when he and Perez’s mother were both jailed for a domestic disturbance. He was subsequently deported in 2006. Perez’s mother was given probation. Following her father’s deportation, Perez recalls her mother struggling to support the family alone, sometimes working two or more jobs to care for her three young daughters.

THE AMERICAN DREAM

The desire to help immigrants take part in the American Dream drove Jose “Joe” Kennard to take action. A successful real estate investor and land developer, Kennard founded the Organization to Help Citizen Children with hopes that he might find like-minded community members to spark a movement toward providing better options for citizen children.

Until two years ago, Kennard and his wife lived in Seattle — as did Ana Reyes, a woman Kennard had never met. Unlike Kennard, however, Reyes was living and working in the country illegally. In 2007, U.S. immigration officials came to arrest Reyes early on the morning of her birthday. It was also the day her 13-year-old daughter Julie Quiroz was to graduate from seventh grade. Instead, Quiroz spent the afternoon helping her grandmother empty her family’s Seattle home, preparing herself and her younger sister to move to Mexico.

Immigration Crackdown Creates Insecure Communities

PBS reports that, because of the Obama administration’s Secure Communities program’s failure to focus on high-level offenders, critics say it’s causing fewer immigrants to share information with police that can help solve cases or prevent future crimes.  Thus, despite its name, the program may actually hurt public safety.

Secure Communities relies on local law enforcement agencies to share their arrest data with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE). After an inmate’s fingerprints are scanned they’re sent to a database of state, FBI and immigration records. If ICE agents find a match, they can issue a “detainer” on the inmate and pick him up.

“The Secure Communities strategy provides ICE with an effective tool to identify criminal aliens in local custody,” said the program’s executive director, David Venturella.

Congress appropriated funding for Secure Communities in 2008 as a way for police to help ICE prevent undocumented immigrants with serious criminal records from being released from jails. So far, the program has led to the removal of 47,000 people.

But the government’s own data shows a quarter of those it helped deport — 12,293 people — were considered non-criminals. Others were picked up for relatively low-level offenses such as driving without a license or shoplifting and then transferred to ICE custody and removed.

Because of the program’s failure to focus on high-level offenders, critics say it’s causing fewer immigrants to share information with police that can help solve cases or prevent future crimes.

“This is creating a huge distrust, a huge void in our community-police relations,” said Cesar Espinosa, who works for the Central American Resource Center in Houston. Both the city and the county here are enrolled in Secure Communities. “We have a lot of folks who ask us, if I report a crime, will I be asked for my paperwork?”

Among those most in danger are undocumented women in abusive relationships. They fear being arrested if police respond to their domestic violence calls, and having to leave their children behind.

Read the entire story here.

Ground Zero mosque fight shows how little we’ve learned from U.S. history

In “Ground Zero: mosque fight shows how little we’ve learned from U.S. history,” by Edward Schumacher-Matos offers insight about the controversy over the proposed constuction of a mosque in New York City.

There are more stories about other groups that are part of the paranoia and fear that periodically rear their ugly heads among us to demonize the newly arriving stranger, the “other” in our midst, this time Muslims. And what distinguishes each movement is that charismatic leaders incite the worst in us.

As for myself, I take a back seat to no one in toughness on terrorism or love of country.

My former office at the Wall Street Journal was across the street from the World Trade Center and was blown out on Sept. 11, 2001. My daughter was in the streets below and later, by some strange fate, was battered, bloodied and nearly killed in the London subway bombings. She was 20 yards from one of the explosions, in the next subway car.

I have known terrorists and terrorism up close in Spain, Northern Ireland, North Africa and Latin America as a journalist, and in Vietnam as a soldier. They are cruel cowards.

But what Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and too many of our current irresponsible leaders are doing may be just as detestable. A bomb happens in seconds and causes onetime death and destruction. These political leaders are destroying the long-term values and structure of our great nation. Can winning an election be worth that much?

We usually self-correct. Another mayor, New York’s Michael Bloomberg, works to save us from ourselves. One hopes that Barack Obama will clearly break from his FDR mode of parsing and passing the buck, and bravely do the same.

Border Patrol Suicides On The Rise

In this Aug. 15, 2010 file photo, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent patrols along the Arizona-Mexico border wall in Hereford, Ariz. Suicides have set off alarm bells throughout the agency responsible for policing the nation's borders. After nearly four years without a single suicide in their ranks, border agents are killing themselves in greater numbers. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

Paul Weber on the Huffington Post reports on the rapid rise in suicides by Border Patrol officers.

After nearly four years without a single suicide in their ranks, border agents are killing themselves in greater numbers. Records obtained by The Associated Press show that at least 15 agents have taken their own lives since February 2008 – the largest spike in suicides the agency has seen in at least 20 years.

It’s unclear exactly why the men ended their lives. Few of them left notes. And the Border Patrol seems somewhat at odds with itself over the issue.

Federal officials insist the deaths have nothing to do with the agency, which has doubled in size since 2004, or the increasingly volatile U.S.-Mexico border. But administrators have quietly undertaken urgent suicide-prevention initiatives, including special training for supervisors, videos about warning signs and educational programs for 22,000 agents nationwide.

“It’s a microcosm of life,” said Christine Gaugler, head of human resources for Customs and Border Protection, the agency that oversees the Border Patrol. “There’s no uptick. It has nothing to do with our hiring. We are just responding to the suicides that have occurred.”

The agency declined to provide details of the suicides and would only confirm the number of deaths since 2008. But the AP uncovered the names, locations and dates of the suicides by reviewing public records, including those obtained from medical examiners through the Freedom of Information Act, and speaking with federal officials who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about this issue.

People who had seen the training video also provided the AP a copy of it, along with information about what steps federal officials have taken to address the suicides.

For more on this story, click here.

Justice Dept. Threatens to Sue Ariz. Sheriff Arpaio in Civil Rights Inquiry

Justice Department officials in Washington have issued a rare threat to sue Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio if he doesn’t cooperate by Tuesday with their investigation into whether he discriminates against Hispanics. The “Model Sheriff” for Arizona’s SB 1070, Joe Arpaio, has a record of failed crime fighting tactics, civil rights abuses and creating terror in the communities he’s supposed to protect.

America’s Voice Education Fund released a new report detailing the long, disturbing and ineffective record of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ.

The report reveals some 21 examples of Arpaio’s disturbing record, among them:

  • Violent crime rates are up in Arpaio’s jurisdiction while they have fallen throughout the rest of Arizona.
  • Arpaio has failed to serve over 40,000 felony warrants. Arpaio is suspected of misspending $50 million in taxpayer funds and has refused to turn over records for an investigation.
  • Over 2,700 lawsuits have been filed against Arpaio and he’s been investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor.
  • Evidence exists that Arpaio forced an undocumented mother to give birth while handcuffed to a bed.

Despite Arpaio’s failures, Governor Brewer endorsed it as statewide policy by signing controversial new state law SB 1070. If the federal government’s attempt to enjoin SB 1070 fails and the law goes into effect on July 29th, every police officer in the state will be forced to repeat Arpaio’s failures.

For more on this case, click here.

NYU’s Cristina Rodriguez Defends Birthright Citizenship

NYU’s Cristina Rodriguez defends birthright citizenship on CNN.com.  Cristina Rodríguez is professor of law at the NYU School of Law. She is the co-author of Immigration and Refugee Law & Policy (with Stephen Legomsky) and is currently at work on a series of papers on state and local participation in immigration regulation. Rodríguez served as a law clerk to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court and to Judge David S. Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The following is here commentary on the 14th Amendment is key to the American experiment.

U.S. courts and most legal scholars have consistently interpreted the Citizenship Clause to apply universally, save to the children of diplomats, invading armies and Native Americans (though the Supreme Court has never directly addressed the status of children born to unauthorized immigrants).

The clause thus operates as a constitutional reset button. Each generation born in the U.S. stands on its own, with equal citizenship status, regardless of parentage. Given our history as a society of immigrants, this rule has been crucial to our development into a cohesive political community and to our ability to integrate each new immigrant cohort.

It ensures that those who are born and raised in the United States have an equal opportunity to participate and contribute and are regarded by others as full Americans.

Not all children born in the U.S. remain, and perhaps those Senate Republicans envision deporting all unauthorized immigrants and their children. But clear-eyed pragmatism tells us that most children born here also go to school, become socialized and enter adulthood here, making them functionally American.

Unless we are prepared to tolerate the emergence of castes based on parentage, universal birthright citizenship and a robust naturalization regime should remain in place.

The goals of the proposed amendment are not strictly punitive, though its effects inevitably would be. Its supporters argue it would reduce incentives for illegal immigration. But this argument is not serious.

The obstacles to passage are nearly insurmountable, and this particular amendment has never come close to succeeding. More important, changing the birthright rule would have little to no effect on illegal immigration.

No doubt stories exist of Mexicans crossing the border just to give birth or of tourists arranging vacations to produce U.S.-citizen children. But the actual causes of illegal immigration are complex and overwhelmingly related to the absence of job opportunities in Mexico and the demand for immigrant labor in the U.S. Precisely because illegal immigration is difficult to prevent, lawmakers substitute symbolic posturing for genuine policymaking.

Though the 14th Amendment is likely safe, it is instructive whenever politicians propose manipulating it to remember its historical role.

Born in the U.S.A. and The Birthright Debate are other defenses, which have become too numerious to post.  The N.Y. Times “Room for Debate” collected some opinions on the future of birthright citizenship.

CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin on Immigration

Julian Aguilar from the Texas Tribune recently interviewed the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Alan Bersin.  Among other things, Bersion said “why he believes the Texas-Mexico border is secure, why deportations of criminal aliens have reached unprecedented levels, why trade between the U.S. and Mexico is as robust as ever and what he thinks motivates most undocumented immigrants to enter the U.S.”

When President Barack Obama appointed Alan Bersin in March as the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, the country was embroiled in an intense debate over safe borders, millions of undocumented immigrants and the amount of manpower needed on the front lines of the drug war. Things haven’t calmed since then, and the passage of Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 has some in Texas clamoring for similar legislation.

Bersin was the keynote speaker at a Border Security Conference at the University of Texas at El Paso last week, sharing the spotlight with, among others, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual; Mexico’s ambassador to the U.S., Arturo Sarukhan; and the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske. Bersin took a few minutes to talk to the Tribune about why he believes the Texas-Mexico border is secure, why deportations of criminal aliens have reached unprecedented levels, why trade between the U.S. and Mexico is as robust as ever and what he thinks motivates most undocumented immigrants to enter the U.S.

You can read an edited transcript of the interview and listen to the audio of the entire conversation at Texas Tribune.

Senator Lindsay Graham’s Drop and Leave

With his call for a possible amendment to the citizenship provisions of the Fourteenth AmendmentSenator Lindsey Graham has put birthright citizenship into the news.  PolitiFact.Com carefully evaluates Senator Graham’s statement above bout “drop and leave” migration and concludes that

“It’s true that many illegal immigrants are having children in the U.S. However, we are not convinced that `drop and leave’ is a phenomenon. The data suggests that the motivator for illegal immigrants is the search for work and a better economic standing over the long term, not quickie citizenship for U.S.-born babies. Graham appears to be conflating two things — a pattern of wealthy foreigners engaging in “birth tourism” using legal visas, and illegal immigration of poorer people from Mexico. In our view, failing to make the distinction exaggerates the alleged problem and uses inflammatory rhetoric to obscure legitimate policy questions. On balance, we rate his comment Half True.”

International Leaders Applaud the Partial Injunction of Arizona’s SB 1070

Washington, DC/Mexico/Guatemala – International leaders gathered on a bilingual telephonic press conference hosted by Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CfCIR). These leaders discussed the urgent need for the reform of our broken immigration system, and to voice approval of the the partial injunction of Arizona’s SB 1070. CfCIR hosted what was essentially a who’s who of prominent conservative and international leaders on their call, including the former President of Mexico Vicente Fox, Juan Gutierrez – the National Secretary of the Guatemalan PAN Party, former Guatemalan President and current Guatemala City Mayor Alvaro Arzu, and also the co-authors of the book “Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate” Jenny Hwang and Matt Soerens of World Relief, an international organization affiliated with the National Assaociation of Evagelicals (NAE).

Some of the highlights from the call:

Former President Vicente Fox: “Who better to explain the issue of migration as an asset than the United States, a nation that has been built by migrants. Everybody has a migration heritage… Since the very beginning of the independence movement, the principles of the American founding fathers have claimed equal opportunity for both immigrants and citizens. The immigrant spirit pushes for a better future, solutions, and better opportunities. Mexico is a very solid partner of the United States and of the state of Arizona. I admire and respect immigrants. They are an example of work ethnic, drive, and loyalty to the country that welcomes them, and they should be treated with dignity.”

National Secretary of the Guatemala PAN party Juan Gutierrez: “We should all be doing whatever we can to try to lead toward an immigration reform solution, so that the migrants can become legal and come home also, to visit their families, and to become more productive members of an assimilated society.”

Former President Arzu: “I am also an immigrant. My grandparents came from the old Soviet Union. Eventually they moved to Detroit, then moved again to Guatemala. So I also come from immigrants, and know very well this phenomenon, and appreciate and respect the life of the immigrant.”

Matt Soerens of World Relief: “As I engage in discussion with evangelical Christians throughout the United States, I’m finding that evangelicals—from the smallest churches to the largest, and across denominational, ethnic, and regional boundaries—are strongly supportive of the principles of comprehensive immigration reform. Local churches see the consequences of a dysfunctional immigration system everyday, and they’re calling on our legislators to stop the bickering and find common-sense solutions.”

Jenny Hwang of World Relief: “Evangelicals as they learn more about what is comprehensive immigration reform, are coming out in strong support of such sensible policies. There is also a moral urgency in supporting such reforms, as much of the church body is suffering, and our communities cannot wait any longer. We applaud Judge Bolton for issuing an injunction that would stop the most controversial parts of the new Arizona law from taking effect. The United States Congress and the Administration, once they start exerting the leadership needed to pass reform, will find the overwhelming support of the evangelical and faith communities in the process.”

SPLC Fights for Guestworker Teachers Defrauded in International Labor Trafficking Scheme

Mairi Nunag-Tañedo is one of hundreds of teachers recruited from the Philippines to teach in Louisiana public schools.

Hundreds of Filipino guestworkers lured to teach in Louisiana public schools were cheated out of tens of thousands of dollars and forced into exploitative contracts by an international trafficking ring run by labor contractors, according to a class action lawsuit filed August 5th by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and Covington & Burling LLP.

The federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of more than 350 Filipino teachers working in Louisiana under the federal H-1B guestworker program. It accuses officials of two labor contractors – Universal Placement International, based in Los Angeles, and its sister organization, Manila-based PARS International Placement Agency – of human trafficking, racketeering and fraud. The suit also names the East Baton Rouge Public School System, several school district officials and a California lawyer, Robert Silverman, based on their roles in the fraudulent trafficking scheme.

“The outrageous conduct by the companies that recruited these teachers and those who assisted them in carrying out their scheme is part of a larger pattern of exploitation that we’ve documented in guestworker programs,” said SPLC Legal Director Mary Bauer, author of the 2007 report Close to Slavery: Guestworker Programs in the United States. “It’s clear that the very structure of the program lends itself to pervasive worker abuse. Guestworker programs should not be the model for immigration reform.”

The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the home state of Universal. Included as defendants are Lourdes “Lulu” Navarro, owner and president of Universal; Hothello “Jack” Navarro, a director at Universal; and Emilio V. Villarba, a representative of PARS. In 2000, Lourdes Navarro was convicted of defrauding California’s MediCal program of more than $1 million and served a year in Orange County Jail. Villarba, Navarro’s brother, was also charged in the scheme but was never apprehended and is now in the Philippines. In 2003, Lourdes Navarro also pleaded guilty in New Jersey to money laundering.

Public schools across America are increasingly turning to the H-1B guestworker program to fill teaching positions. According to a recent report by the AFT, the number of overseas teachers brought to the United States increased by nearly 30 percent between 2002 and 2006, from 14,943 to 19,393. The five states with the most overseas teachers are Texas, New York, California, Maryland and Louisiana, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The teachers began arriving in the United States in 2007 after each paid about $16,000, several times the average household income in the Philippines, to obtain the jobs. The H-1B guestworker program, administered by the Department of Labor, permits foreign nationals with special skills to work in the United States for a period of up to six years.

To read the full article, click here.

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