OMAHA — One of the most damaging consequences of our outdated immigration system is the havoc it wreaks on families. Nationwide, an estimated 4.5 million children who are U.S. citizens have a parent without immigration papers, including thousands here in Nebraska.
Today, Nebraska families, youth, and faith leaders delivered children’s drawings and constituent postcards calling on Rep. Lee Terry to support common-sense immigration laws with a clear and attainable path to citizenship for aspiring Americans in order to keep Nebraska families together.
“Since i was a child, I have recited the “Pledge of Allegiance” promising the best of me to this country and to my community,” said Tania Moreno, a young Omaha DACA recipient. “The pledge promises “Liberty and Justice for All,” an opportunity to grow up without the fear of having a family separated. That is all I have ever wanted. We are asking Representative Lee Terry to support a common-sense approach to update our outdated immigration laws, and in these laws to provide a pathway to citizenship. So our hard-working
Nebraska families don’t have to continue living in fear.”
“The unity of families is sacred. I worry that border security and punitive measures for those lacking legal status will continue to separate families and especially endanger children who have one or both parents lacking legal status,” said Father Mike McAndrew of Omaha’s Holy Name Parish. “Measures presented so far in the name of immigration reform fail to consider many of the complexities of legalization. U.S. citizens who fall in love with an undocumented person are penalized and often children are separated for long periods of time from one or both parents.”
“Imagine trying to raise and support your children by phone or being a teenager with only a weekly or monthly call to mom. This is happening to Nebraska families,” said Miriam Ocampo, pastor at Omaha’s Amistad Cristiana Church. “As a mother I can’t even imagine the suffering of not being with those I love most, my family. Deportation hurts us all and it hurts Nebraska’s future, Nebraska families deserve the opportunity of freedom and happiness that this country has.”
Photos of Wednesday’s event will be available this afternoon on Nebraska Appleseed’s Facebook page. High-quality digital images may be obtained by contacting Nebraska Appleseed Communications Director Jeff Sheldon at (402) 438-8853 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
See video of Wednesday’s “Keep Our Families Together” Event
Tania Moreno – Omaha DREAM student
Tania Moreno – Young Nebraskans’ “dreams are crushed” by outdated immigration laws
Father Mike McAndrew – Holy Name Parish
Pastor Miriam Ocampo – Amistad Cristiana Church
Outdated immigration policy separates families, harms children
At current rates of deportation, more than 400 U.S. citizen children per day have a parent taken away from them by detention and deportation.
Research shows children’s and family health are endangered by our current immigration policies that break families apart or leave families living in fear of separation. According to a recent Human Impact Partners report “Family Unity, Family Health: How Family-Focused Immigration Reform Will Mean Better Health for Children and Families”:
- Children are more likely to suffer physical and emotional health problems and not do as well in school when separated from their parents or when living with the daily fear of separation.
- Children can be plunged into poverty when a parent who brings in an income is detained or deported. Family separation also takes an enormous toll on the other parent.
- The trauma of actual separation – or simply just the fear of it – can really imprint on a young child’s brain. This can result in what researchers at Harvard call toxic stress response. It’s clear that effects of immigration policy matter not just to children’s health today, but pose risks to their health as adolescents and adults far into the future.
Families and local leaders from around Nebraska are visiting the state’s Representatives’ offices this month, delivering postcards, children’s drawings, and banners from Nebraskans who want common-sense immigration laws with a clear process for citizenship that keeps our families and communities strong.