During Obama’s first run for president in 2008, he declared that deportation should only target “violent offenders and people convicted of crimes; not families, not folks who are just looking to scrape together an income”.
In the first six months of that year, nearly 45,000 such parents were removed according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Behind the statistics are the stories: a crying baby taken from her mother's arms and handed to social workers as the mother is handcuffed and taken away, her parental rights terminated by a U.S. judge; teenage children watching as parents are dragged from the family home; immigrant parents disappearing into a maze-like detention system where they are routinely locked up hundreds of miles from their homes, separated from their families for months and denied contact with the welfare agencies deciding their children's' fate.
At least 5,100 U.S. citizen children in 22 states live in foster care, according to an estimate by the Applied Research Center, a New York-based advocacy organization, which first reported on such cases last year.
And an unknown number of those children are being put up for adoption against the wishes of their parents, who, once deported, are often helpless to fight when a U.S. judge decides that their children are better off here. Immigration lawyers say that — despite the ICE policy changes — they see families destroyed every day.”
In Congress, California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard has proposed
legislation that would make it more difficult for local agencies to terminate
the parental rights of immigrants. She calls it "heartbreaking ... that in
the U.S., immigration status in itself has become grounds to permanently
separate families." It is, she said, "absolutely, unquestionably
inhumane and unacceptable, particularly for a country that values family and
fairness so highly."