Our War on Citizen Children

Our government has declared war on citizen children whose parent(s) are undocumented even though they may have lived and worked here for many years. Even the Temporary Protective Status (TPS) granted to those who are victims of a natural and other disaster in their home countries is being revoked. Our government is destroying healthy, self-supporting families.

Write or email your Senators and Congresswo(men) today and ask for their support. Tell them that a path to citizenship, rather than so many deportations and detentions, would strengthen families and communities. Offering citizenship for those who have paid their taxes and maintained a home for their children saves lives and money.

This is what we lose by breaking up families and deporting parents:

  • united and stable families that support and pay for their growing children;
  • billions in uncollected social security benefits;
  • more than $1 billion in state and federal taxes;
  • the performance of essential tasks by low-waged laborers; and
  • healthy, untraumatized, citizen children who can grow into effective citizens of our country.

More than 6 million U.S. citizen children under the age of 18 live with an undocumented family member. A recent study by the Center for American Progress shows nearly 2 million children are living this way in California, and that by 2011 there were 5,000 citizen children in foster care because their parent(s) were detained or deported. If we continue to deport parents, 15,000 more citizen children may lose their family, their homes, their livelihood and may become wards of a state’s child welfare system.

Children who lose their family and home are traumatized.

Collectively, America’s undocumented immigrants pay an estimated $11.64 billion in state and local taxes every year,  including sales, excise and property taxes. They also pay about $1.1 billion in personal income taxes. The  Social Security administration estimates that earnings by unauthorized immigrants result in a net positive effect on Social Security because of uncollected benefits. This added roughly $12 billion to the cash flow for 2010.

Children who lose their family and home are traumatized, and this trauma is similar to what children face in war-torn countries like Syria and Yemen. They live in constant fear of separation from their parent(s). When ICE detains their parent(s),  they lose their home and the security of their family and their family income. They face homelessness, they may be permanently impaired by deep depression and traumatic stress, and they have reason to hate the U.S. government.

In my small town of Nahant, ICE detained a mother while her son was attending grade school. On arriving home, he met his foster parent(s). Many of our legislators are middle-aged men who cannot imagine the trauma experienced by this young boy. Foster care is an uncertain situation. While all foster parent(s) must meet certain state standards, ultimately this is parenting for pay, and many may not have cultural, family or personal ties to the child(ren) they care for.

There are many complicated regulations about keeping a family together when parents are detained or deported. Parents may be allowed to stay in touch with their children, but ICE is routinely uncooperative about this. Federal law mandates that parental rights be terminated if a child has been out of a parent’s custody for 15 of the past 22 months. To avoid this separation, undocumented parents are advised to make plans for the care of their children—but many of their friends or relatives may be undocumented as well. Children should not be exposed to a possible second trauma of separation.

If you care about the welfare of our citizen children, please write or email your legislators today and ask for their support.

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