More Than 200,000 Deported Parents Say They Have a U.S. Citizen Child

It’s a heavy number we’re talking about.

According to The Huffington Post, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has removed more than 200,000 immigrants from the country since 2010 – immigrants who say they’re also parents of a child who is a U.S. citizen.

The large number was recently obtained by the daily news site Colorlines, who filed a Freedom of Information Act request.

According to reporter Seth Freed Wessler’s findings, nearly 23 percent of all deportations in the U.S. (which took place from July 1, 2010 to Sept. 31, 2012) were issued for parents of U.S. citizen children.

To be clear, the 200,000 number reflects the total amount of deportations conducted, not how many individuals have been removed from the country. Colorlines cited experts who say that the total number of deportations of parents may be higher because some mothers and fathers fear telling authorities that they have kids.

A number as large as 200,000 is likely to raise the extremely-sensitive question of the impact these policies have on families. And what about the children?

In an interview with Colorlines, California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard shared his thoughts on the issue.

“We are in a crisis situation in which we need to start taking action immediately to prevent these needless and often-times permanent separations of American children from their families,” he told the website. Roybal-Allard is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and introduced legislation last year that would protect detained and deported immigrant parents from losing their children.

In a statement to The Huffington Post, an ICE spokesperson said most of the immigrants cited in the new data obtained by Colorlines had criminal records. The federal agency hasn’t yet compiled official figures. 

“ICE is sensitive to the fact that encountering those who violate our immigration laws may impact families,” the statement reads. “ICE uses prosecutorial discretion to release individuals in ICE custody for humanitarian reasons such as being the sole caregiver of minors and when we are aware that the detention of a non-criminal alien would result in any child (U.S. citizen or not) being left without a[n] appropriate parental caregiver.” 

What are your thoughts on this new data? Sound off in our comments box!