An estimated 30 immigrant advocate groups are calling for a new law that would allow those separated from their families because of deportation to be reunited. According to Colorlines, more than 200,000 parents of children who are U.S. citizens were deported within two years, and roughly 23 percent of all deportations were of parents of American children. This is the case because parents often cross the border and then give birth in the United States, automatically allowing that child to gain U.S. citizenship.
In November 2011, Colorlines found that an estimated 5,100 children were placed in foster care rather than being reunited with their detained or deported parents. During the first few months of 2011, 46,000 parents were deported, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
With immigration reform on the horizon, advocates are urging government officials to reunite these families who have been torn apart. Lucille Roybal-Allard, a California advocate introduced legislation last year that would help protect families from being separated because of deportation.
“We are in a crisis situation in which we need to start taking action immediately to prevent these needless and often-times permanent separations of American children from their families,” Roybal-Allard told Colorlines. “We have to make sure that all children are protected.”
Roybal-Allard will be reintroducing the bill, Help Separated Families Act, which would prohibit states from eliminating a parent’s rights if other conditions are met. In some cases, children who were put into foster care were adopted by American families, leaving the parents without any rights to custody. An estimated 10,000 letters were sent to the president and Congress urging them to address this issue immediately.