The stories abound: the father who was deported just before Thanksgiving despite everything his family did to fight, the teenagers who haven’t seen their mothers in years, the parent who was deported because he returned across the border to reunite with his family. These are just a few examples of the families that have been separated due to US deportation policy. According to the Huffington Post, ICE deported 72,410 parents of US born children in 2013.
According to a 2013 report by Human Impact Partners, some 4.5 million US citizen children have at least one parent who is undocumented. When a parent is deported, their children sometimes leave with them. But some stay in the US with another parent or family member. Some 5,000 kids across the US are in foster homes because one ore more of their parents have been deported.
About 1 in 7 — or 10,700 — of the parents in the Huffington Post report had no criminal convictions whatsoever. Of the rest, it is unclear what percentage only had minor violations — such as driving without a license or driving with a broken taillight — or what percentage were deported for “offenses” such as re-crossing the border after a previous deportation in order to reunite with their families.
Colorlines reported in December 2012 that more than 200,000 removals of parents of U.S.-born children had occurred from July 1, 2010, to Sept. 31, 2012, based on a Freedom of Information Act request.
An ICE spokesman’s response to the Huffington Post reflected not on the high number of parents removed without criminal convictions, but rather a desire to be “helpful” in removing the child as well should the parent to be deported choose that option:
We work with individuals in removal proceedings to ensure they have ample opportunity to make important decisions regarding the care and custody of their children. For parents who are ordered removed, it is their decision whether or not to relocate their children with them. If parents choose to take their children with them, ICE assists in every way possible including helping to obtain travel documents for the minors or, when possible, allow for the family’s voluntary departure.