Deportation has divided families. The Urban Policy Institute and Migration Policy Institute report that many removals leave parents and their children on opposite sides of the border. The ongoing problem needs a lasting solution.
The House and Senate are about to debate two bills that would focus on uniting families once divided by immigration policy. Specifics of the legislation include:
- Providing judges with more discretion in deportation cases
- Empowering the Secretary of Homeland Security and Attorney General to waive deportation orders
- Allowing once-removed parents to reunite with their children in the United States
Current immigration law removes lawful permanent residents for committing a serious crime. Those caught without proper documentation are not only deported from the United States but also barred from returning for up to 20 years.
Deportation goes beyond punitive measures against migrants, a common target for immigration enforcement officials. The damage to family units is unimaginable. Children, in particular, are suddenly left alone, wondering if they will ever see their mothers or fathers again.
Family separation transcends the previous presidential administration. Current statistics reveal that approximately 500 families remain apart. The practice has been ongoing for almost twelve years. From 2009 to 2016, nearly 400,000 immigrants were removed, a record number when compared to the Trump and Bush administrations.
The policies in place do not just punish one deportee. The impact of a loved one’s sudden absence is traumatic on family members, particularly children. Many psychologists are reporting young people dealing with symptoms that resemble post-traumatic stress disorder.
Many assume that the solution is as easy as parents taking their children with them. For many, that is simply not possible. However, options in the future may reunite these families if proposed immigration reform becomes actual immigration reform.