How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

A growing number of deported parents

Photo by Brian Auer/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A man in Playas de Tijuana, on the other side of the U.S.-Mexico border fence, September 2008

Source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

A post last week examined an attempt by some California lawmakers to keep the children of deported immigrants out of foster care, a growing problem as record deportations lead to more separated families. It briefly cited a new federal report on deported parents that had just begun trickling out to legislators.

The details of the report, now making the rounds, are impressive. During the period between January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2011, according to the report, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed 46,486 immigrants from the country who claimed to be the parent of at least one U.S. citizen child.

The seven-page report to Congress is part of a federal response to lawmakers seeking more data from ICE on deported parents of U.S. citizen children. Interestingly, it cites a Homeland Security estimate from 2009 that tallied more than 100,000 parents of U.S. citizen children removed between 1998 and 2007. Spread out over several years, that's a relatively low number in comparison. Since then, as deportations have increased, so naturally have the deportations of parents.


In California, an attempt to keep some deportees' children out of foster care

Photo by Roger's Wife/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A post last month described some of the scenarios that can befall the U.S.-born children of immigrants who land in deportation proceedings, some better than others. Sometimes, deported parents opt to take their children with them when they leave. Other children remain here with relatives.

But when relatives can’t be located, or the parents are shuffled off quickly into the immigrant detention system, sometimes there's nowhere for the kids to go. In these cases, it's surprisingly easy for these immigrants to lose their parental rights. Parents in detention are hard pressed to meet the requirements established by child welfare agencies, such as attending case meetings or court proceedings related to the children, and often fail to meet the strict timelines set. If they don't meet the terms, their parental rights can be terminated.