The current U.S. immigration laws adversely impact undocumented immigrants and their children. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there are more than 12 million people in the U.S. who are undocumented. There are around 5.5 million children in the country who have at least one parent without documentation.
Deportations affect such immigrant and mixed-status families. Deportations rip families apart and force children of detained undocumented immigrants into foster care. Children separated from their parents suffer from depression, anger, chronic anxiety and other stress disorders. The broken immigration system of the U.S. has made the American dream a nightmare for many.
Deportations not only affect families but communities too. Undocumented immigrants and their children live in the U.S. with fear of deportation. Deportations have longstanding effects on immigrant families and permanently change the structures of such families, often resulting in single parenthood and dissolved families.
Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for health insurance under the federal health care law. Similarly, they are not eligible for social service benefits. Many U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants do not apply for food stamps or welfare as they fear that the information about their parents they provide while filing their applications would put them into trouble.
Many fail to report crimes fear of being questioned about their legal status. Even the legal residents and U.S. citizens in mixed status families do not report crimes as they believe that their undocumented family members will get into trouble if they do so. Undocumented immigrants also avoid walking in public places or taking their children to school, fearing contact with immigration authorities.
Unauthorized immigrants do not have the right to take part in civic life and they cannot apply for state benefits. They cannot get driver’s licenses and federal financial aid. If encountered by the immigration authorities, they will be placed in immigration detention and finally be deported. The everyday lives of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. is filled with anxieties.
Many get into the U.S. illegally as they are desperate about jobs and some come to re-unite with their families. To support immigrant families and children, the U.S. must pass comprehensive immigration reform that would legalize the undocumented immigrants and protect them from deportation. This will help the children of undocumented immigrants to live without fear of deportation. Anti-immigration laws should not be encouraged or passed. The U.S. Congress must prevent more people from illegally entering into the U.S. by passing a reform bill that would strengthen border security.