(This post is part of the Moms Rising blog carnival, “Protecting Family Unity, Strengthening Communities and Ensuring a Thriving Economy with the Contributions of Immigrants.” Be sure to visit the site and read the contributions of more than 30 Congressional, non-profit leaders, and advocates from around the country.)
Every morning in this country, mothers and fathers focus on getting their children ready for school and then get to work themselves. But imagine having to do all this knowing that at any moment your family could be separated thanks to outdated immigration policies. This is the reality for nearly one in ten American families, in which at least one parent is a non-citizen and one child is a citizen.
One example of this kind of family is Liz and Jose. Liz, a U.S. citizen, is married to Jose, an undocumented immigrant, and they have three children who are also U.S. citizens. In addition to providing for the family and sharing household responsibilities, Jose has been supportive of Liz as she advances in her career and pursues new opportunities as a medical support specialist. Liz and Jose have established deep roots in their community. They bought a home and they attend their local church every Sunday, going out for tacos after.
However, shortly following a camping trip, Jose was detained by the police and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE initiated removal proceedings and Liz was told to purchase a one-way plane ticket for Jose to return to Mexico, a country he had not seen in years. Liz contacted an attorney and a local advocate to help keep her family together. She wrote, “I want the love of my life back home with his family, our children, and me so we can continue to live the life and the future that we had planned for our kids. My babies Zarrianna, Osvaldo, and Esteven want daddy back home.”
There are millions of children and spouses who have been separated from their loved ones in this way. They are now enduring tremendous pain and struggling to survive without their support. We hear their stories all too frequently. Families should be able to thrive together and provide the best that they can for their children. Instead of a process that tears families apart, our country deserves a common-sense immigration policy, one that includes a roadmap for people who are working hard and desperately want to be full members of our great country. We need Congress to pass immigration reform that reflects our strong American values of family, hard work, and opportunity.