Testimony on deportation, detention, and family separation
Statement for the Congressional Record pertaining to the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing
March 18, 2013
Immigrants deported from the U.S. are members of their family units. The Department of Homeland Security released statistics stating that 204,810 parents of U.S. citizen children were removed from the U.S. between July 2010 and September 2012. What numbers cannot show is the life changing impact of family separation on children in particular, as well as on the family as a whole. Youth who have lost a parent due to deportation or detention exhibit dramatic behavioral changes such as heightened anxiety, anger, fear and frequent crying, as illustrated in a 2010 Urban Institute study. Sadly, upon the removal of their parent(s), some children are left without a loved one to care for them. According to the Applied Research Center, over 5,000 children currently in foster care have parents who are detained or deported. Experts estimate that an additional 15,000 children may be placed in foster care over the next five years as a result of immigration enforcement.
Today, more than half of all documented and undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are women and an estimated 4.1 million women are undocumented. Women without legal status often live in the shadows out of fear of being separated from their families through deportation, rendering them extremely vulnerable to workplace exploitation and domestic abuse. This population’s well‐being is further eroded through denial of basic health care and social services.
AFSC offers the following policy recommendations:
- End arrests, detention, and deportation of immigrants.
- Pass legislation that allows people who reside in the U.S. to apply immediately for permanent residence and citizenship if they choose.
- Expedite the processing of pending visa applications.
- Ensure that positive factors are always balanced against any negative factors when determining eligibility for status.
- Ensure that children can immigrate with parents and eliminate harsh obstacles to immigrating.
- Extend access to quality, affordable health care and social services to everyone, regardless of immigration status.
- Eliminate rules that discriminate between immigrants and non‐immigrants in determining eligibility for public benefits.
AFSC urges the Committee to exert visionary leadership and to support new immigration policies that respect the human rights and equal economic opportunity of all in our communities.