Dec. 18, 2012 NEWS RELEASE — LIRS Troubled by Deportation of Over 204,000 Parents of U.S. Citizen Children

Latest ICE Data for 27-Month Period Reveal More Families Torn Apart

Press Contact: Jon Pattee
202-591-5778, jpattee@lirs.org

Washington, DC, Dec. 18, 2012 — Over 204,000 parents of U.S. citizen children were removed from the country for immigration violations in the period from July 1, 2010 to September 30, 2012, according to data released last week by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

ICE, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, revealed the data in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

“We are profoundly troubled by these latest figures,” said Stacy Martin, Vice President for External Relations of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS). “As the national organization established by Lutheran churches in the United States to serve uprooted people, we cannot abide the U.S. immigration system tearing so many families apart.”

“During a holiday season when families are preparing to gather and celebrate together, we witness how the rigid and outdated U.S. immigration system is absolutely failing American families,” Martin said. “Migrant and refugee children should not have to choose between the American dream and living with their parents.”

“Despite much talk from the federal government about U.S. immigration officers having greater discretion to preserve family unity in these cases, we continue to see devastating results for children,” said Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy.

Nystrom said: “U.S. immigration officials and immigration judges need more flexibility to weigh situations and consider the best interests of families when making decisions about detention and deportation. We ultimately need Congress to craft an immigration process that promotes family unity and allows new Americans to fully participate in our communities.”

In January 2012, the Applied Research Center released “Shattered Families,” a report showing that over 5,100 children of immigrants have ended up in foster care because U.S. immigration authorities had either detained or deported their parents.

LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating on behalf of refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations, and for providing services to migrants through over 60 grassroots legal and social service partners across the United States.