Failing Families: How Current Immigration Enforcement Hurts Children

74170262DM014_Immigrant_GroLast week, the Baltimore Sun featured an op-ed on immigration enforcement and its impact on children. Lavanya Sithanandam, a member of South Asian Americans Leading Together, is a practicing physician and wrote about her own personal experience with children whose families have been victims of immigration raids.

When I walked into the exam room, I knew something was wrong. My 8-year old patient, usually an extroverted, charming boy, was angry. He sat with his arms crossed and refused to look at me. His exhausted mother recounted how one week ago, her husband, after arriving home from a 12-hour shift at work, had been arrested in front of his children and taken away in handcuffs. He was now sitting in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Frederick. The mother asked me to evaluate her son for a one-week history of poor appetite, difficulty with sleeping, and wheezing.

Sithandam emphasizes that many of the children who suffer because of immigration raids are citizens of the United States and “Yet these children often experience what no U.S. citizen (or any child, for that matter) should. They live in constant fear of abandonment because they have seen and heard of neighbors and family members being picked up and deported within days.”

The future for families like my 8-year-old patient’s looks grim. My patient’s suffering will probably have no influence on his father’s deportation proceedings, given the high legal standards of “extreme hardship” that must be met in order for his father to stay with his family. The boy will most likely be forced to start a new life in a country he has never even visited.

Immigration policy is complicated and emotionally charged, but punishing citizen children should be at the bottom of ICE’s priorities. It is time to once again consider a fair and comprehensive approach to immigration reform.

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted last week “Taking children from their parents is un-American”. It is time to end the raids on our families and communities and push for comprehensive immigration reform. It will be reform, not raids, that will keep families together and ensure a bright future for our children.

2 responses to “Failing Families: How Current Immigration Enforcement Hurts Children

  1. My son witnessed his father taken away from him 10 months ago and it was traumatic for him.It breaks my heart every time he cries for his daddy.I have no hope right now on when we will get to see him again.He has lived here for 17 years!He has a job waitng for him on his return.I would gladly take any punishment instead of him.we have paid and paid ,and tried to do everything the right way-and still were punished for it!Had we not went forward with a lawyer he would have probably still been here like many others.I have had to file for bankrupcy ,food stamps and wic,all the while working 6 days a week,since my husband was taken away.We NEVER had to be supported by the government before.Now i can barely keep my business open!I am severly depressed but I have to keep going and working for our son.Hopeing one day I will recieve some relief,some help!Hopefully before my health fails me.I want to have more than one child,so my son will not be alone,but will never get to if me and my husband are not reunited.

  2. If they would all just go to where they are citizens they would have nothing to worry about. Their children would not have to wittness their law breaking parents arrests if they would come to our country the legal way. They bring their problems on themselves because they choose to break our laws when they sneak in.
    OBEY THE LAW if you don’t want your children to see what they see.

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