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A Wish for the New Year: End Mass Deportation and Family Separation

By Shawn Jain, Media Strategist, ACLU at 12:08pm

As families get together this holiday season, we thought we’d share one wish for the New Year: an end to a government policy that tears thousands of these families apart.

We’re talking about the Obama administration’s harsh immigration enforcement regime, which has led to more than 200,000 parents of U.S. citizen children deported in just the last two years.

They are children like Eliza Morales, a 19-year-old from Los Angeles, whose mother was deported to Mexico when she was 14. At a recent Capitol Hill briefing, Morales said, “it was really difficult to deal with because I didn’t know if she was okay or where she has headed.  I felt like she had abandoned me.  U.S. immigration policies are driving families apart, little by little.  I want people to hear me, to hear us.”

Morales is one of dozens of children who delivered more than 10,000 letters to Congress calling for an end to unjust deportations of parents of U.S. children.

Unfortunately, the trend of mass deportations is going in the wrong direction. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on Friday that in the past fiscal year, it deported a record number of immigrants: nearly 410,000. As in previous years, almost half of those deported had no criminal records.

Overall, there have been a record-breaking number of deportations in President Obama’s first term – more than 1.5 million people, more than in any other single presidential term.

The ACLU has maintained that deportation should be the very last resort. We should move away from wasting taxpayer money on deporting immigrants who pose no threat. This is especially true given that unauthorized immigration rates and border apprehensions have plummeted to the lowest level in 40 years.

Our hope is that 2013 will signify a change and that Obama will take steps to rescind anti-immigrant federal policies and programs, including unnecessary deportations. That would truly be in keeping with the spirit of the holiday season.

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