By Yoli Navas:
Every day, families are being torn apart by the deportation of undocumented parents of US-citizen children. Human Impact Partners estimates that in the past year anywhere between 60,000 and 150,000 children have been separated from either one parent or both by the nation’s “heartless detain-and-deport immigration laws.”
This week, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and other members of Congress met with children and family members of deportees who shared their stories for the public. These children came from all over the country to tell not only their stories, but also the stories of thousands of children whose parents have been detained and deported. Some children spoke of the happy memories they hold onto until they are reunited with their parents. The daughter of a deportee remembered when her dad used to call her ‘mi princésa’ (my princess), and told the room of how she longed to see him again. Many children struggled through tears to tell how their parents were taken away from them, detained by officials, and deported out of the country they call home.
After telling their own stories, each child pleaded for a stop to deportations and a change to the immigration system in America. The children proudly wore T-Shirts that read “Don’t take my mommy and daddy away” and held hundreds of letters that children wrote to Barack Obama, telling their stories and asking for a chance to have their families reunited once again. These children showed that they are not only courageous, but also wise beyond their years by standing up and fighting for their families and what they believe in.
One brave daughter of a deportee performed a song she composed and wrote for Obama. She spoke of her father being taken away by immigration, and how her family had no idea what to do. She told Obama “Todos quien votaron por ti, a todos los has defraudados.” (“Everyone who voted for you, you’ve deceived all of them.”) She said that she will join forces with Gutierrez and arm herself with bravery to ask the president to stop hurting people, and stop the deportations. She only hoped that one day she would have her father here with her. With this song she showed her bravery, and represented the bravery of all children who have lost their parents and are standing up for a just system.
The children, family members, and deportees asked Obama and Congress for a pathway to citizenship and chance for families to be reunited. Congressman Luis Gutierrez told the children, with tears in his eyes, “We have made it more difficult for your moms and your dads to return.” He spoke of the suffering of women, of the children, and of families because of the deportations and because of our broken immigration system. He told the room that now that we have immigration legislation (in the Senate), we should not let “political partisanship” deter us from what the American people have asked for. Gutierrez assured the dozens of children, “A sleeping giant no more we are. We will raise our voices everywhere in this country until we are heard.”
View pictures of the event here: