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It’s no surprise that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s immigration plans differ dramatically when it comes to the well-being of children, including American citizens like Sophie.
First, Donald Trump doesn’t even think Sophie is a U.S. citizen. He argued with Bill O’Reilly over this fact. The whole exchange is worth reading, but here is an excerpt:
O’Reilly: I have been saying that for decades but you are not going to be able to deport people who have American citizenship now and the federal courts will never allow mass deportations without due process for each and everyone. Do you envision federal police kicking in the doors around the country dragging families out and putting them on a bus? Do you envision that?
Trump: I don’t think they have American citizenship. If you speak to very good lawyers, I know some would disagree. Many agree with me, you will find they do not have American citizenship. We have to start a process where we take back our country. Our country is going to hell. We have to start a process where we take back our country.
In short, we need to “take back our country” by taking U.S. citizenship away from Americans born in this country, because of their parent’s immigration status. No wonder Latinos and other people of color feel that their very Americanness is being questioned by this campaign: it is.
Hillary Clinton, however, wants to improve these children’s lives by stabilizing the status of their parents and allowing them to eventually become U.S. citizens. As she told the SEIU: “You know, the most important measure of any society is how we treat those at the beginning, like children, and those at the end, the elderly. What kind of country would we be if we let Donald Trump rip our families apart?”
The two candidates say they support family unity, but again that looks very different depending on who is president.
Trump’s vision for keeping families together is multi-generational deportation: “We’re going to keep the families together, but they have to go,” he said on Meet the Press. When Barbara Walters asked him if he was going to deport entire families, including women and children, he said: “Sure, it’s got to be a family unit. It’s going to be done humanely.”
For her part, Clinton says: “We have to stand up for hard-working families, and that includes immigrant families. Moms and Dads should be preparing kids for their futures, not for the possibility that they could be hauled away at any moment.”
Clinton’s platform — passing comprehensive immigration reform, protecting and expanding deferred action, ending family detention, making healthcare affordable for immigrants — is centered on helping families live better here in the United States.
These differences are important. Around 5 million children in the United States have one or more parents who are undocumented, and 4 million of these kids are American citizens. Numerous studies show that children in these families face major stressors — from economic factors to sheer anxiety over the prospect of a parent’s deportation — that harm their ability to concentrate in school and can lead to psychological damage.
A Trump presidency would only multiply children’s fears and anxieties, while implementing Clinton’s platform would do much to alleviate them.
Recently, Ohio’s Voice and Cleveland Jobs With Justice held a panel in Cleveland, analyzing the many costs of mass deportation. We started with the economic costs, as outlined in a new Center for American Progress report and explained by Policy Matters Ohio’s Amy Hanauer. Then we discussed the legal costs with David Leopold and the impact on workers with Deb Kline.
We ended with the most expensive part of Trump’s proposal — the cost of deportation on actual American families.
Marilu Morales, whose husband Javier was deported just two months before the announcement of DAPA, spoke alongside her daughter Rocio. Her other three children played with one ear on the conversation. They live with their father’s deportation every day.
“When they deported my husband, our youngest daughter was 8 months old, so now she only knows him by his voice. Since that happened I am always walking around afraid. My kids are afraid all day and when they come home from school they don’t want to open the door. Since his father’s deportation, my oldest child has had to take pills for anxiety and depression. I had to stop working and I can’t drive because I don’t have a license. My kids just want their dad back home,” explained Marilu.
Sophie Cruz’ question must get asked this Sunday at the debate — not because the campaigns haven’t been clear on their answers, but because a larger audience of Americans needs to hear. If we care about children, there’s only one right answer.