When Katherine Figueroa went off to her school in Arizona each day, the same fear lingered in her head.
“Every time when I went to school I kept thinking that maybe I wouldn’t see my parents when I came home,” she said. “I would also have bad dreams, like the deputies were taking my family and me to jail.”
11-year-old Mateo Pera would try to push the same fears to the back of his mind as he attended classes every day.
“I think about it when my dad goes to work that he might not come back or when I go to school that there might not be someone to pick me up when I get out.”
There are children just like Katherine and Mateo right here in Nebraska — Nebraska kids who were born in the United States and are U.S. citizens, but who have one or more parent without immigration status or whose immigration status has lapsed due to the many twists and turns of outdated laws.
A new report from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says more than 46,000 parents of children were removed from the U.S. in the first half of 2011. The Urban Institute says nearly 5 million children in the U.S. have at least one parent who is undocumented.
Most of the discussion about our immigration policies is political, but tearing apart families is very personal. Children are better off with the support of both parents, and our immigration laws should reflect that simple truth.
It’s time for our immigration policies to stop hurting families. A clear, workable roadmap to U.S. citizenship for new Americans will keep families together, strengthen our communities, and build a better society.