The only phrase that politicians love more than “border security” is “family values.” The GOP’s own platform says,
We are the party of independent individuals and the institutions they create – families, schools, congregations, neighborhoods – to advance their ideals and make real their dreams. Foremost among those institutions is the American family.
But how does our current immigration policy add up when it comes to our family values? Should the party that champions the American family really be the party that defends our current immigration system?
Our immigration system leaves children to fend for themselves. The US Border Patrol and ICE just last year deported and apprehended over 13,000 minors.
These children usually flee their home countries due to gangs that prey on children. Consider the story of Belkis Rivera;
When Belkis was 6, the gang that controlled her neighborhood in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, killed her grandmother and then her uncle, and demanded that her brothers join as lookouts. Belkis’s mother took the boys and fled to the United States, leaving Belkis behind with family. When the gang started stalking and threatening Belkis, then 13, she followed, making the terrifying six-month journey across Mexico by herself. She was caught by the Border Patrol last September, while crossing into the United States.
In fact more than 40% of the children who are deported are eligible for some sort of status that would exempt them from mandatory deportation, such as asylum. They are deported anyways.
In fact these children aren’t even given the courtesy of a public defender at their hearing. Our system provides murderers, kidnappers, arsonists, thieves, and rapists access to a competent defense, yet can’t apparently spare a public defender for a child. Often these children are as young as six when they stand before court.
In a six month period in 2011, the US government deported 46,000 individuals with US citizen children. As US citizens, these children are not deported but instead are often placed in foster care. Today over 5,000 children, who are natural born American citizens who have birth parents, are placed in the foster care system. In the ten years prior to that, over 100,000 such parents were deported, while their children remained in the United States.
The children (with parents) who are placed in foster care suffer an unenviable fate. Children in foster care, when compared to children left in homes of comparable problems, are more likely to suffer from teen pregnancy or end up in the juvenile justice system. Furthermore foster care teens are twice as likely to drop out of high school or not go on to college. This a matter of the government not assisting these children, but instead actively taking measures to ruin their lives and breaking up their family, the institution the GOP wants to advocate for.
Red Tape over Family
One would think that despite all of the injustice suffered by undocumented immigrants and the family of American citizens, that at least applying for citizenship or residency would be easy if one was legally applying and had American immediate family. Think again.
For instance, applications for family preference only applies if the family has enough money. In addition the cost of an orphan applying is more than double the normal family preference fee.
The time it takes to make your family citizens, as Americans, as a best case scenario, is five to seven years. If you are not a parent or spouse, your time to reunify with your loved ones could take anywhere to twelve to twenty-eight years.
Even then one could lose legal status in the United States. Consider the case of Tatyana Miroshnik. She married an American citizen, had a number of children and eventually their marriage broke up. After living more than a decade in the United States, teaching, and having American children, the US Department of Homeland Security is saying that she has no legal right to remain in the country; children or not.
“My son’s life will be shattered, my girls will be growing here during one of the most important periods of time – teenage years – without my counsel, without having mother by their side. How terrible that is,” Tatyana Miroshnik says.
Let’s face it. Our immigration system is one of the biggest threats to the American family today.
Joseph Laughon is a lifelong Republican and a proud Mexican-American. He was a campaign consultant to Martha Flores-Gibson in 2012 and was both the Vice Chairman of the College Republicans at Concordia University and the President of Nuestra Voz. He lives and writes in San Buenaventura, California.