By Theresa Conejo
BCWAC Individual Partner
I applaud the decision of President Obama to halt deportations and detentions that tear apart immigrant families. With his Executive Action, the President recognizes the history of the United States of America, to value and honor our nation of immigrants and value family unification. His action will provide relief to millions of hard working immigrants and their families and children.
His decision could never have happened without the incredible effort and community mobilization on the part of students, parents, people of faith, business communities, professionals, and activists who came together to ask for solutions to fix our broken immigration system.
Speaking as a woman who has family members of mixed immigration status, I personally have felt the pain and devastation that our broken immigration system has created. Separation, depression, homelessness, poverty and hunger are situations no one wants to experience, but it is a reality for many. The hardest thing for me was visiting a loved one in jail and knowing his only crime was wanting to support his family. My loved ones, friends and neighbors can now have some relief that this constant stressor in their lives will be lifted.
A Victory for Many
As a member of the Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition, I see it is a victory for many women and children in Bucks County. Mothers do not have to worry about being arrested, jailed and separated from their families. The anxiety of losing a spouse due to lack of documents will also be alleviated. They can feel part of the community in which they live and not live in the shadows.
In the first six months of 2011 alone, more than 46,000 parents of U.S. citizen children were deported. Deportations have a large effect on families, forcing children into foster care as their parents are shipped out of the country and leaving single mothers struggling to make ends meet. In addition, the tenuous legal status of many parents left behind adds a double burden on these families to provide for their families while also raising their children.
Certainly the deportation of people who have committed certain serious crimes and are threats to our national security will inevitably break up families. But there are ways to recognize the importance of family unification and to mitigate the devastating effects of deportation-especially for those who have committed no crimes, save for the civil penalty of being in the country without status. Hopefully, this Executive Action of our President will lead our Congress in path of creating a Comprehensive Immigration Reform solution.