Report: More than 100,000 deportees had children in U.S.
Last updated 2-19-09 at 11:32 a.m.
By Suzanne Gamboa
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 100,000 parents whose children are U.S. citizens were deported over the decade that ended in 2007, a Department of Homeland Security’s investigation has found.
The parents were removed from the country on immigration violations or because they had committed crimes. The removal of the 108,434 parents were among the approximately 2.2 million carried out by immigration officials between 1998 and 2007, Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner said in a report made public Friday.
Skinner warned that the numbers were incomplete because Immigration and Customs Enforcement doesn’t fully document such cases. The agency also does not keep track of how many children each parent has. He recommended immigration officials start collecting more data on removed parents and their children.
In response to the findings, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement said it would study whether it can gather better information. Its study is due in about two months.
“I am saddened but not surprised to learn that our government, in its harsh anti-immigrant stance, has split hundreds of thousands of families apart over the past decade,” said Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano.
Serrano serves on the House Appropriations Committee’s panel that helps decide how much money is provided to the Homeland Security Department each year. He has filed a bill, the Child Citizen Protection Act, which would allow immigration judges to consider whether immigrants have children who are U.S. citizens when making deportation decisions.
“If, in fact, some (children) were left behind here, then you have the sad tragedy of breaking up families,” Serrano said.
“If they were taken back, I would argue the direct result of our actions is the deportation of our citizens. How do you deport a U.S. citizen?”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said the agency would review whether to establish procedures to ascertain whether deported immigrants have children under the age of 18 who are U.S. citizens. But she also noted the impact of giving reprieve to immigrants who have violated U.S. laws.
“Parenthood does not exempt any person from complying with the nation’s laws, including immigration laws,” Gonzalez said. (end)