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U.S. born Zury Vizguerra, 5 months, gazes at her mother Jeanette Vizguerra, an undocumented Mexican immigrant on July 10, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.
In the past two years, the number of undocumented immigrants deported from the U.S. has hit a record high. Many of those sent back to their countries of origin are parents of U.S.-born kids, as a recent internal report by immigration enforcement reveals.
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard says she and members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees asked the feds for specific data after reading a 2011 report by the Applied Research Center think tank. The organization had found that 5,100 children in the U.S. were living in foster care following their parents’ deportation.
This week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement finally made the data public. In the report, director John Morton acknowledged that the agency deported around 47,000 parents of U.S. born children in the first half of 2011 — 1,500 alone from the Los Angeles area.
"We can't continue to claim to value families while deporting parents in the tens of thousands," responded Roybal-Allard in a statement.
In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, recognized that the separation of deported parents from their U.S.-born children was a growing trend. Since then, immigration enforcement agencies have been directed to track information about those families.
Currently, ICE is in the process of implementing a policy that will take into account family ties in making deportation decisions.