A Thousand Dallas Immigrant Families Broken By Deportation During Six Months in 2011

Categories: Immigration

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So often we think of undocumented immigrants as young, rootless men scaling border fences with plastic bags and gallon jugs of water slung over their shoulders. Truth is, people come here, set down roots and have kids. And when they get picked up by authorities, whether for a felony or for something petty, like driving without a license, they leave family behind.

According to a report from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to the Senate and House appropriations subcommittees on Homeland Security, immigration officials removed nearly 47,000 undocumented immigrants who had U.S.-born children during the second and third quarters of 2011. In the Dallas district, nearly a thousand removal orders were obtained.

Unfair Park was curious about how these forced separations played out on a case-by-case basis, so we reached out to Dallas immigration attorney Lisa Schwamkrug. These stories, she says, are all too common.

"Over the past several years, in general, the number of deportations and the amount of enforcement have increased. That's an explanation for the staggering number of deportations and deportations of individuals with U.S. citizen children," she said. "None of those numbers surprise me."

Schwamkrug has seen almost every variation. If one parent is removed, and the other is undocumented, often the whole family will leave the country, even if the children are Americans, born and raised. She's seen cases in which one parent is a citizen, yet the entire family will leave the country to be with the deported spouse. Sometimes, to give their children every opportunity, they simply split up.

Schwamkrug recently won a case in which the spouse of a naturalized citizen received a removal order. As the family studied Plan B should she lose, they decided that they'd take their two youngest citizen children with them to the home country, and leave their two oldest children -- a college student and a high school senior -- to finish out their educations.

Often, when a spouse is removed, they simply return illegally. But if they get caught and charged with criminal re-entry, and were in the country for more than a year the last time without papers, that person is barred from entering the country legally for 10 years. The citizen children must either lose one parent for a decade, or leave the only country they've ever known.

There's a kind of implacable cruelty to these stories, but there are also practical considerations for the rest of us.

"A lot of the times the ones deported are the breadwinners for the family," Schwamkrug says. "If the family remains here and the breadwinner is deported, now you're looking at the family potentially going on public benefits, so you're creating a big public benefits problem. Now the taxpayers are going to have to support the family because the government deported the breadwinner.

"Sometimes the breadwinner is a convicted felon, and other times it's a person that's had no criminal history and got picked up on a traffic ticket."


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uk immigration solicitors
uk immigration solicitors

Different types of qualifications are required in order to comply with family reunification laws in different nations. In some cases, both spouses must be over a certain age in order for the immigration to take place. At other times, the laws may define specific types of relatives that are covered under the terms of the laws, including parents, grandparents, spouses, siblings, and children. 

donovan acree
donovan acree

Illegal immigration creates a slave class of people who can be easily exploited simply because they have no legal rights or status.Slavery is not something we can tolerate in the U.S.. Despite my feelings of sympathy for those being mistreated, we must end slavery in all of its forms. This is a non-negotiable position that we, as a country, took in April of 1864 with the Thirteenth Amendment.Our laws are very clear on the subject of immigration and the process of becoming a citizen or legal resident. Violation of these laws causes societal harm by enabling a slave economy to exist. Wages for all workers and the value of labor in general is reduced through competition between employers who also use slaves in their workforce.For myself, I can't imagine taking the view that illegal immigration should be allowed knowing what the outcome of that will be.

Paul
Paul

Isn't this an illustration of living with the consequences of one's actions?

Please correct me if I am mistaken but doesn't the Republic of Mexico toss illegal aliens into jail first; and, didn't the Republic of Mexico place its on army on its southern border with Guatemala and Belize with orders to shoot people entering the country illegally?

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

You lost me at "something petty, like driving without a license".

Let's see...

A person who doesn't speak our language, who has not received drivers education training, who does not understand our laws or regulations operating a vehicle without a license or insurance to provide financial liability WHEN (not if) they fuck something up.  

Yeah, that's really petty.

Fail.

3456baker
3456baker

Why don't we let all the people that want these  illegals here {like this Lisa} Let all the illegals stay at their home's,let them buy food and clothes for the illegals.Instead of having everbody pay for them

yahoo-AK4JB3QC63WRKXTJXEK23VBBAM
yahoo-AK4JB3QC63WRKXTJXEK23VBBAM

Australia puts illegals into prison for a year or two, and then they are deported -- would that work in the USA?  No, of course not... there would be no end to the charges of racism.  We in the USA have a system where people can apply for citizenship based on quotas globally, but persons from Hispanic nations are given way too much preference already.  I have friends from the Caribbean that have followed the US system, messed up due to oversight, and the wife was deported for years, but if they were from Mexico more leniency would have been shown.  Kids and dad were US citizens, yet they were all forced to leave.  Illegals make a mockery of our system, and demand special treatment.  Do it right if you care, otherwise you are stealing from people trying to do it right -- making the system harder for everyone.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

I agree with almost all of what you said, but kids and dad leaving would be a choice to be with their mother/wife. Unfortunate, yes, but not forced deportation of legal citizens.

BajaRat
BajaRat

 Breaking into the country and proceeding to squat and filch is a crime under Title 8 Section 1325 of the U.S. Code. The first offense is a misdemeanor. Subsequent violations are felonies.

BajaRat
BajaRat

Tell the kid to sue the parents for child abuse once the entire family is given the boot back to whence they came. I say build a wall and deport 'em all.

Albert
Albert

You pays your money, you takes your chances.

BajaRat
BajaRat

Another sympathy-trolling piece of propaganda from the usual radical lefty press..... yawn! Why do these so-called journalists seem to think that an illegal alien dropping a few anchor babies on our soil somehow gives them the right to squat and filch here forever? Get the hell out and take your stinkin' gangster larvae with you.

Juan Valdez
Juan Valdez

You are definitely angry BajaRat. Jealousy perhaps that other "larvae" are doing better than you? Your classy words epitomize your conservative kind. I surely want a country with less of your people and more of the hard-working "larvae".

Mickister
Mickister

Brantley, you're probably making a case that is going to be hard for people to go along with today. 

Blaming a rule enforcer for the consequences of another party's failure to follow a rule is probably not a winning concept.  

Ironically, the problem you present lends itself to a "conservative" solution, which is probably not what you had in mind.  Children born in the United States are American citizens and cannot be deported, even if their parents are.  The way to solve the problem would be to end birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants.  Then the entire family could be deported.

There is little doubt that the expensive, bureaucratic immigration system needs to be reformed, but the battle over emotional stories won't ever lead to anything.  A liberal website will post the story of a family being broken up one week, and a conservative website will post the story of an illegal immigrant who commits a heinous crime the next week.

Juan Valdez
Juan Valdez

I know people that have been living here for 15-20 years. They came is as part of a broken system that allowed them to pursue a better future. We had (still have?) a broken immigration system and hence need to be more empathetic. Many people have build their lives here and have helped us "americans" succeed.

BTW, zero tolerance for criminals tho.

BajaRat
BajaRat

 All illegals are criminals, genius. The system isn't "broken" either. The federal government is thoroughly corrupt and has been for decades. Those miscreants (Comrade Obama, et al) answer to the USCC and the crooks on Wall Street, not to the voters.

Mickister
Mickister

"All illegals are criminals, genius."

False.  Being in the United States without authorization is not a crime.  It's a civil violation, and the remedy is deportation. 

On the other hand, entering the United States without authorization is a federal misdemeanor.  However, there are millions of people that enter the United States legally but then fall outside status of having legal authorization.  That means it would be incorrect to assume that someone who is here illegally entered the country through criminal means.

Mickister
Mickister

Yes, entering the country without inspection is a crime, but there are plenty of illegal immigrants who came here without committing that crime and continue to live here without committing crimes.  Some people overstay their visas.  Some people cross a border lawfully and fail to return to their countries of origin. 

Even if we just narrow it down to Hispanics who are living here unlawfully, that doesn't necessarily mean they are committing crimes to further their unlawful status here.  In fact, committing crimes is a good way to get noticed and get deported. 

That's not to say that there isn't a problem with illegal immigrants, namely those who cross the southern border illegally, coming here and committing crimes.  That's why for every sad story Brantley can write about for the Observer, a conservative could write about a criminal story involving an immigrant. 

It's also a good reason to deny birthright citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants, that way they can be deported with their parents, and thus their families are not separated.  Such a denial would also serve a disincentive for this kind of illegal immigration.

BajaRat
BajaRat

Entering the country without inspection is a crime. Unfortunately being in the country illegally isn't a crime, but to survive here illegals commonly commit numerous crimes. Let's start with identity theft or using fake ID, for instance....

Phelps
Phelps

I'm all for opening the borders to non-criminals and getting rid of the legal immigration quotas.

But lumping the felons in with everyone else kills any sympathy you would get from me.

Brantley Hargrove
Brantley Hargrove

 Sins of their fathers, right? Take a look at ICE's numbers, and you see that the percentage of removals for felonies is a very small percentage.

quellepotat
quellepotat

Have deportations increased during the Obama presidency?

RTGolden
RTGolden

And I'm sure you're right on the verge of providing verifiable information to the contrary.  From reliable sources, thoroughly vetted and acknowledged to be THE subject matter experts in this field.

Right?  Right?   Beuller?  Beuller?

BajaRat
BajaRat

 You are basing this on data provided by the most corrupt regime in history? Bwahahaha!

Brantley Hargrove
Brantley Hargrove

 That's demonstrably false and I suspect you're just trolling, but I'll bite. Third chart from the bottom shows removals, which don't include voluntary returns, doing nothing but climbing since 2008. http://www.ice.gov/removal-sta...

BajaRat
BajaRat

No. That corrupt scumbag and his socialist minions include voluntary returns in their deportation numbers. Voluntary returns are not deportations.

Phelps
Phelps

Do you consider living in Mexico a punishment?  That's a dangerous rabbit hole to dive into.

rubbercow
rubbercow

Mexico's unemployment rate is far lower than ours.  

Brantley Hargrove
Brantley Hargrove

 For a kid who grew up here, absolutely I do. If Mexico is the land of opportunity, would Mexicans flock here? Of course, that flocking has tapered, but I don't see a rabbit hole. The thing is, people ain't got no jobs in Mexico, otherwise they'd stay there.

Poppacraig
Poppacraig

While I do feel some empathy for these children lets not forget who is the one doing the victimizing. It is the adult latent who entered the country illegally and created the risk that this could happen to their family.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

So the children for whom you "feel some empathy" should be sent packing to a foreign country without any basic survival skills or a support network?

Poppacraig
Poppacraig

No, they should be sent with their parent. Or they should find a legal guardian who is a citizen or legal resident. My point was that blaming the rule enforcer is stupid. The blame goes on the person who knowingly broke the law and therefore assumed the risk.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Dont be here illegally.  Im sorry, but if an American citizen commits a crime, he/she ends up leaving family behind as well.  Dont we tell our citizens do the crime, do the time.  Well, being here illegally is a crime, so be willing to do the time (being deported to home country)

TripleD_kingpin
TripleD_kingpin

quick question when you say dont be here illegally, do you mean dont be here illegally if you're mexican or do you mean dont be here illegally regardless what country you are from, canada, france, maybe australia, germany, etc. etc.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Guilty concience or race baiting? All by the way.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Thats cool, a lot of people associate it with mexicans, in this particular article was about hispanics, and the writer even comments about mexican families. But in general the law should be enforced the same for all illegals

TripleD_kingpin
TripleD_kingpin

not at all dude, im actually not mexican. And im definitely not race baiting. If you honestly feel the way you do, thats fine. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But the thing is alot of people seem to single out latins, mainly mexicans, when they speak about illegal immigration.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

So, let's take the case of an educated young person, who was brought here "illegally" by their parents at, say, the age of three.  The three-year old grows up in the U.S. with no connections to his or her country of birth and lacks the ability to speak the language of that country.

Fast forward fifteen years-- the kid figures out that he's here illegally; what are his or her practical options:

1)  Find a time machine and transport oneself back fifteen years to the age of three (while simultaneously retaining the willpower of an 18-year old) and then refusing to go to America with his or her parents;

2)  Abandon all friends and family and voluntarily go to the country of birth, where the 18-year old will be unable to speak the language, lack any knowledge of local customs, and lack the connections necessary to help the youngster start a job.

3)  Go underground, and work in the U.S. shadow economy.

What's the answer is this case?

KoeniginLuisevonPreussen
KoeniginLuisevonPreussen

The answer is that the parents should have thought of that before breaking the democratically enacted laws of the United States of America, and the harm to their children for their bad choices is 100% the fault of the lawbreaking, irresponsible parents.

Any other questions?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

not my problem Wylie.  Is it fair to the child, probably not, they didnt have a choice, but then again its the situation the family put them in.  We are all responsible for the actions of our families, why should illegals be treated any differently

Poppacraig
Poppacraig

1. Putting illegally in quotation marks doesn't change anything. Illegal is illegal no matter what snarky punctuation you use.

2. I am going to vote option #2. Once again the parents are the ones at fault. They made a choice to involve their children in an illegal activity, then knowing the risk of being deported they neglected to teach the child the language and culture that they knew was possibly his/her future.

JRinDallas
JRinDallas

'Don't be illegal' is a tautology.  And who can disagree with that refrain?

Our immigration system is not as cut-and-dry.  Being here 'legally' isn't as simple as checking a few boxes on a government form.  It's expensive, lengthy, frought with risk, and arbitrary.  It discourages self-reporting.

Thought exercise.  Keeping in mind that a license to drive is not a right... if the DMV took 3 or more years to process your driver's license renewal, would you patiently sit at home and/or use only public transit?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

How does getting an arbitrary license that lets me drive compare to immigration?  There is a legal way to become a legal immigrant to the U.S.  I have no remorse for those that choose to blantantly break the law.  If it takes 3 years and money, then start the process and pay the money.  You know, Id like to have a bank account with millions in it, but that doesnt give me the right to rob a bank does it.  No I have to save money and that takes time.

Michael in LH
Michael in LH

 I talked to him personally, face to face, about it and how it had affected some of my family and how they had worked their asses off before the amnesty and how they continued working afterwords and were living the American dream. He didn't have any regrets about at that time, vato. You heard wrong.

BajaRat
BajaRat

 As I recall Reagan had serious regrets over that 1986 amnesty travesty and claimed is was the worst mistake of his presidency. I know that first hand from a family member, cabron.

Michael in LH
Michael in LH

Those damn mollycoddlers!  All those DNCers like President Reagan giving out amnesty left and right to millions of illegal aliens. What a bleeding heart mollycoddler.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

The human in me agrees, I feel bad for the children affected by their parents decision.  but I also feel bad for babies of crackheads, children of felonious parents and others of less fortunate situations.

Brantley Hargrove
Brantley Hargrove

 Nobody's bleeding, just trying to exercise some human empathy. We are, after all, human. The purpose of this post is to remind people of that.

BajaRat
BajaRat

 Breaking into the country and proceeding to squat and filch is a crime under Title 8 Section 1325 of the U.S. Code. Just because the thoroughly corrupt Obama regime and others have chosen to mollycoddle these squatters is irrelevant.... it's still a frickin' crime. The rest of your rant is pure BS and laughable at best. Who pays you to post this crap? Janet Murguia? Frank Sharry? The DNC? LOL!

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

bleeed brantley, bleed for them.  how are your affected if I rob the liquor store on the corner?  Seriously, I dont have a problem with them being here, in fact they do some realy great things for this country, but if they are caught, I dont see an issue with the punishment.  Its currently the law, and thats what we have to go by.   I really meant my first sentance in the last post to be sarcstic

Brantley Hargrove
Brantley Hargrove

 You're still talking about the difference between, again, a civil infraction and a crime that creates victims, whether it's violent or not. In fact, it's been proven time after time that undocumented immigrants are a net positive, economically. How are you being victimized, at this very moment, by someone's unauthorized presence? How many millions (or billions) of dollars are undocumented immigrants paying into the system -- a system, I might add, that in most cases will not return any benefits to them?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

its doesnt have to be violent unless the robber wants it to be.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to live her, but whats wrong with asking them to do it lawfully?

Brantley Hargrove
Brantley Hargrove

 Isn't that sort of a false equivalency, SM? A violent felony versus a violation of CIVIL law?

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