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Immigration Action and Its Troubling Effects on Children

Immigration Action and Its Troubling Effects on Children

Imagine if you were a child and living in constant fear of losing your parents.

For many children of aspiring citizens, potential loss of one or both parents is a day-to-day reality. Deportations can force children into foster care when their parents are shipped out of the country and leave single mothers struggling to make ends meet.

A new Center for American Progress report highlights how deportations break up families and negatively affect the entire community. Children’s fear of losing their parents translates into mistrust for all police officials and, as the authors write:

Children learn, in school, that this is a nation of immigrants. But under the threat of deportation, “immigration” and “undocumented” become synonymous, and children associate a stigma with immigration—turning it into a mark of shame rather than one of pride.

As the study points out, the number of immigrants removed from this country has steadily risen, from roughly 190,000 deportations in 2001 to nearly 400,000 per year in the past four years.

Even more troubling, in the first six months of 2011 alone, more than 46,000 parents of U.S. citizen children were deported.

Harsh anti-immigrant laws like Alabama’s H.B. 56 also deny workers their fundamental human and civil rights and are pushed by the same forces that attack collective bargaining laws, undermine Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and limit the voting rights of working people. (PLAs ensure fair wages and that the work can be completed on time, on budget and by skilled workers.)

Some employers use immigration as a bludgeon to prevent workers from exercising their freedom to form a union, including the Milwaukee-based Palermo's Pizza, where 150 workers are on strike over serious safety issues and minimal wages. (The AFL-CIO has endorsed a nationwide boycott of Palermo Villa Inc., in response to the company’s blatant disregard of its workers’ choice to form a union.)

Along with the report, “How Today’s Immigration Enforcement Policies Impact Children, Families and Communities: A View from the  Ground,” the Center for American Progress this week held a panel discussion spotlighting the Obama administration’s new initiative, “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” focused on the initiative as assisting many immigrants but not a final solution. Panelists also discussed Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s (R) reaction to the initiative and how laws like Arizona’s S.B. 1070 complicate enforcement and complicate the government and advocates’ response to family separation in immigration policy.

Watch the full panel discussion on C-SPAN here.

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