How Deportation Affects the Families Left Behind

The New York Times recently wrote a story featuring a family whose father had been deported, despite no criminal history (aside from driving without a license). The eldest child, a 14-year-old boy, walks several miles in the snow to get groceries for his family: his undocumented mother who works long hours at a local factory, his 12-year-old brother, his 10-year-old brother, and his 6-year-old sister.

With only one income, the young man has asked a local Wendy’s to make an exception for their minimum age requirement.

Over six million U.S. citizen children belong to at least one undocumented parent. These parents’ efforts to apply for green cards and begin a legitimate path to citizenship is hindered by ICE’s recent, overly-aggressive efforts to round up broader and broader groups of immigrants. ICE has even made arrests at the green card interview, in some cases.

One 16-year-old citizen is facing the deportation of his mother because she decided to apply for a green card (she is married to a U.S. citizen). Her husband now feels that it was his fault that she was arrested—he was the one who urged her to allow him to petition for a green card. She initially said no because she feared it would put her on ICE’s radar. She wasn’t wrong.

Do American Citizens Have the Right to Prevent Deportation of Family Members?

Unfortunately for the loved ones of undocumented immigrants, the courts don’t believe so. The U.S. Court of Appeals Third Circuit ruled that the deportation of an American-born baby’s parents did not violate her rights—despite data suggesting that parental deportation leaves children more likely to suffer from behavioral issues, mental health problems, and decreased academic performance. Regardless, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that deportation only has “incidental” impact on a child. In the baby’s case, the court gave the parents two choices: forfeit her to the foster system in the U.S., or take her with them and allow her to return to the U.S. as an adult.

Until Congress creates a solution for an overworked immigration system, the battle for immigrant rights will need to be fought in the courts.

Get help for your case—call The Law Offices of Lloyd E. Bennett, Esq., P.C. at (800) 909-8129 to share your story and learn about your legal options.