Elizabeth Oregon

Immigration Policy and Families

The United States government needs to understand how immigration policy affects more than just the individual.

Dear Future President,

Many people, including myself, believe that deportation has not been dealt with correctly. We, as a country, need to focus our attention on all of the families that are being separated. Not only should we help the families that are being separated now, but we should prevent it from happening to others. This is a serious matter that involves many immigrants who live in constant fear.

A huge number of people depart from their native country every year for the U.S. seeking better opportunities. The vast majority stabilize themselves and become part of their communities along with their families. The government should extend deportation relief to certain unauthorized immigrants who have no criminal history and/or are parents of U.S. born children. From a 2013 investigation made by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Obama administration deported a record 438,421 illegal immigrants of that year alone. Since Obama took office in 2009, more than 2 million deportations have taken place. It is not certain if they had family, but the possibilities are more than great. Things are not going to result better for the families who are going through this tough process unless action is taken. Some may say this is not a concern to them, but you never know until it happens to you. It is our obligation to insure the protection and union of families where fear is not present.

The separation of families causes a great deal of stress that can present itself in economic hardship and emotional distress, which can lead the family to destruction. Children are the ones who are most vulnerable. According to an Applied Research Center report, there are at least 5,100 children in foster care due to a parent being deported or detained. The ARC estimates that another 15,100 children will enter the foster care system within the next five years. The long term effects on the kids can vary from signs of depression, anxiety and even post-traumatic stress. The New America Media published a segment regarding the mental struggles U.S. children face after a parent is deported. Here, Jessica Ordeñana Papa, now 31 and mother to a 2-year-old daughter, shared her story. Jessica says that she still experiences flashbacks and recurring nightmares. She was a 15-year-old junior high school student when her mother was taken away from her. All her siblings, including herself, were born in the U.S. Even now, she still finds herself breaking down when a scene in a television show reminds her of that fateful day. “I could still see my younger brother kicking and cursing at the officers,” she said. “[Him] yelling, ‘Don’t take our mom away from us!’ still haunts me.”

A pathway towards deportation relief still has a long way to go. We can start a movement by educating ourselves about the effects of deportation. I believe change is possible. With the right set of mind and material, anything is achievable.