By Elvira Arellano
COLUMN FROM EL DIARIO)
The Applied Research Center, publisher of Colorlines.com now reports that there were 46,000 deportations of the parents of U.S. citizen children between January and June of 2011.
It is hard for me not to get angry all over again. In August of 2008 I sat in Mexico city and watched Obama accept the nomination for the Presidency of the United States. He said it would be unacceptable tohim for a mother to be separated from her son in the United States.
As I watched the television, I had twice been dragged from my U.S. citizens son’s arms by armed ICE agents. I had the unfortunate experience of having heard Obama promise to stop the separation of my son and myself when he was a U.S. Senator – a promise he broke. Still I wanted to believe this first African American candidate for Presidency.
As the reports of deportations rose in Obama’s first two years, reaching one million in July of 2011, we knew even from people we met in Mexico that parents were still being separated from their U.S. citizen children. We watched too as Congressman Luis Gutierrez and my companeros in Familia Latina Unida in the U.S. toured mass meetings in 30 cities to demand an end to the separation of families, ending with a children’s march on the capital in August at which Congressman Gutierrez himself was arrested.
Then we heard the news that President Obama had finally agreed to a new policy of “prosecutorial discretion” and that parents with U.S. citizen children who did not have criminal records would have their deportations set aside, their arrests vacated and their cases in court administratively closed.
Again I want to believe this President – but I have good reason to watch closely.
The Applied Research Center, publisher of Colorlines.com now reports that there were 46,000 deportations of the parents of U.S. citizen children between January and June of 2011. There is noinformation as to how many children each parent was separated from but the Applied Research Center also reports that there are at least 5,100 children in foster care because their father or mother is detained or deported.
The Obama administration, responding to theFamilias Unidas campaign, announced its new discretion policy in in August. The Congress now requires that Homeland Security report the number of U.S. citizen children separated from their parents through deportation every six months.
Familia Latina Unida will be watching the next release of figures. ICE was supposed o begin a review of over 300,000 pending cases to see where prosecutorial discretion should be applied. Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano testified before Congress that that review had not yet begun.
I know it is an election year.I know all the Repunbican candidates have shown no concern for our families and our children. Yet I also know the pain and the anger that still rises in my heart- and that rises in the hearts of millions of Latinos in the United States as we recall the cruel realities of Obama’s broken promises.
This is truly his last chance. We are watching. In the meantime, I urge our companeros in New Yok and other U.S. cities to do what Famiia Latina Unida is doing in Chicago. There volunteers are collecting deportation cases and bringing those with U.S. citizen children directly to ICE – demanding their immediate release. Certainly there are organizations with the resources to stay on top of these cases. Perhaps our Latino media could help to coordinate this effort to defend our communities.
I also urge every undocumented person in the U.S. to reach out to at least 5 U.S. citizens and bring them to register to vote. There are 11 millon eligible voters who arenot currently registered. 500,000 Latino citizens alone will turn 18 in the next year and be eligible to vote. We call this the “solidarity vote”. We urge this voter registration – but we urge those who can vote to watch the next report on the number of U.S. citizen children who have their parents ripped from their arms. They should keep their votes in a “lockbox” until we see the reports.
And if Obama is lying to us again then we should “occupy” his campaign offices.