June 20, 2007

Children become face of US immigration debate - US

Families are being torn apart as this administration appeases its anti-immigrant base. Children are the most innocent victims of this political opportunism. That is why I support Obama for President in 08. He will make reunification of families a priority in U.S. immigration policy.
Children become face of US immigration debate - US
Children become face of US immigration debate

By Anne K Walters Jun 20, 2007, 0:04 GMT
Washington - A swarm of baby strollers descended on the White House Tuesday accompanied by hundreds of children, their parents and organizers hoping to put children at the forefront of a push for US immigration law reform and to protest policies that separate families.
The march of about 2,000 people brought together groups of immigrants from across the country just as the US Congress is set to again tackle controversial legislation that would overhaul US immigration laws for the first time in decades.
As the immigration issue has come to the political forefront, children born with US citizenship who have watched their parents forced to leave the country have drawn attention and put a human face on an issue that most politicians say needs to be fixed - even if they disagree on how.
One such child, Kunal Sah, 13, who has US citizenship because he was born here, saw his parents return to India after being denied political asylum, but chose to stay with his aunt and uncle in Utah. He went on to compete in the National Spelling Bee last month, and the competition became a hook for international media attention, including articles in Indian newspapers and on the front page of the New York Times.
However, the vast majority of those at Tuesday's march were Hispanic, reflecting the onslaught of immigration by those in Latin America seeking higher wages in the US.
At the march, the children carried posters with the face of a crying child separated from her parents in prominent immigration raids earlier this year.
The crying girl symbolized the outrage after a raid at a factory in New Bedford, Massachusetts in March left children scared and abandoned after their parents were apprehended at work and detained for being in the country illegally.
The march was timed to coincide with the political debate on the issue and to tug on politician's heartstrings after the US celebration of Fathers' Day on Sunday, by urging children to protest on behalf of their parents, many of them here illegally.
'I don't like what they are doing to separate families,' said Rosa Marina Alvarez, 52, 'That's half a life here and half a life there.'
Alvarez, a native of El Salvador, brought her three grandchildren to the march. She pushed one child in a stroller and waved a sign proclaiming in English and Spanish: 'The government doesn't support me, I support them.'
The quote was a retort to critics who feel immigrants could become a drain on society. In fact, many illegal immigrants pay taxes.
Organizers say immigration raids have to stop, but have focused most of their energy on pushing for immigration reform they believe would make such actions unnecessary by granting illegals a chance to stay in the United States.
Some marchers carried posters showing a small boy and his father next to a Christmas tree under the words, 'Where's my daddy on Fathers' Day?'
The theme continued with a giant, symbolic Fathers' Day card for US President George W Bush. Showing the president with his daughters on the outside, it wished him a happy fathers' day, but noted 'it isn't one for us.'
Deportations go largely unnoticed across the country. More than 200,000 foreign nationals were removed from the US in 2005 through formal channels, and another estimated 1.3 million were turned back at or near the border, according to the office of immigration statistics.
No numbers were available on how many of those cases separated family members who are US citizens from those who were here illegally.
In the same year, nationals of 188 countries were apprehended by authorities - with Mexicans making up 85 per cent of the group. Other Latin American countries made up much of the rest of the top 10.
'I wouldn't like to get separated from my mother and my dad,' said Luis Vargas, 19, who came to the rally with several siblings whose parents immigrated from Mexico. 'Everyone had to come from somewhere.'
Senator Edward Kennedy, a key sponsor of the legislation, brought the crowd to its feet at a rally in a Washington church before the march.
'It is not right to divide families as we have seen in New Bedford, Massachusetts' and other locations, he said. 'That is not American.'
The bill championed by Bush appeared to die earlier this month, before being revived in a congressional compromise late last week. It would overhaul immigration laws, providing for an expanded 'guest worker' programme and a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million or more people living illegally in the United States.
Bush's own Republican Party rejected his previous efforts to push through the bill. It stands a better chance with the new Democratic- controlled Congress, but still faces tough opposition from both sides.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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