According to reports delivered to Congress, Immigration and Customs Enforcement last year carried out more than 72,000 deportations of parents who said they had U.S.-born children.
The report also states that a large portion of those children, about 5,000, have been placed in foster care as a result.
The reports were sent by ICE in April to the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, as required by law. ICE confirmed the authenticity of the two reports, which lay out 72,410 removals of immigrants who said they had one or more U.S.-born children in 2013.
The reports show that even parents of U.S. citizens are among the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants being expelled from the United States each year.
Children born in the U.S. are given automatic citizenship, regardless of their parents’ immigration status, and a 2013 report by Human Impact Partnersestimated that 4.5 million U.S. citizen children have at least one parent who is undocumented. When a parent is deported, their U.S.-born children sometimes leave with them. But some stay in the U.S. with another parent or family member. Some children end up in U.S. foster care.
The shocking numbers come as President Obama faces pressure to change his deportation policies to keep families together. The House is continuing to stall on immigration reform as the government scrambles to deal with an influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. border illegally.
Advocates for halting some deportations have pointed to cases involving parents of children who are U.S. citizens, saying parents should not be separated from their children except in extreme circumstances.
While most of the parents of U.S.-born children deported last year had been convicted of a crime, about 10,700 had no criminal convictions, although they may have fit other ICE priorities for removal, according to the reports.
On Wednesday, an ICE spokesman told The Huffington Post that the agency “is sensitive to the fact that encountering those who violate our immigration laws may impact families.”
“We work with individuals in removal proceedings to ensure they have ample opportunity to make important decisions regarding the care and custody of their children,” the ICE spokesman said in a statement. “For parents who are ordered removed, it is their decision whether or not to relocate their children with them. If parents choose to take their children with them, ICE assists in every way possible including helping to obtain travel documents for the minors or, when possible, allow for the family’s voluntary departure.”
In a video to bring awareness to this dire issue, Jamie-Lynn Sigler of The Sopranos and writer/producer Paola Mendoza released “Broken Tail Light,” a short film released on Wednesday in honor of Immigration Heritage Month.
A mother (Sigler) and her three-year-old daughter (Heaven King, The Ellen Show) giggle and dance to their favorite song on the radio. A chance encounter with a police officer changes the course of their lives forever.
You can watch the video below:
For more information on the ICE report, click here.
SOURCE: HuffPost, ICE | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty | VIDEO SOURCE: YouTube
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