OP-ED: An urgent campaign to defend immigrant children
Tuesday, the very same day irate protestors gave hell in New Mexico to the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, several pro-immigration groups launched a national campaign in defense of the children of immigrant families.
Dubbed My American Story, the national TV and radio public service announcement (PSA) campaign emphasizes the devastating impact deportations have, not only on immigrant kids, but also on children born in the U.S. to immigrant parents.
The urgency of the campaign’s message is underscored by the Obama administration’s cruel intention to launch, in the coming weeks, a new wave of deportations targeting Central American women and children, just weeks before the Supreme Court decision on DAPA and expansion of the Deferred Action Program for Childhood Arrivals (DACA+). That decision could either bring temporary safety to immigrant families and their U.S.-born children, or condemn them to a hellish life of persecution and fear.
“In America, we believe every child should have a fair shot at achieving his or her full potential,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, a children’s advocacy group that created the campaign. “A fair shot means that all kids should have their parents. Keeping families together is a core American value, and our nation’s flawed immigration system is doing the exact opposite – it’s ripping families apart.”
Yes, it is. From 2012 to 2014 immigration authorities deported 200,000 people who had U.S.- born children. Imagine the damage new deportation raids could do to the almost five million children born in the U.S. but who have at least one undocumented parent.
According to First Focus, children who lose a parent to deportation often suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and are more likely to fall into poverty and do poorly in school. “Even the fear alone of possibly losing a parent can harm a child’s long-term health and development,” they say in their web page.
The campaign’s message is made all the more powerful because it is the children themselves who tell their story of living in constant fear of ICE suddenly showing up and taking their parents from them.
“The children featured in the PSAs know first-hand what it means to live with the fear that you’ll come home from school to find your mother has been taken away by ICE, or grow up without your father there to play the games you love together because he was deported,” said Sameera Hafiz, policy director of We Belong Together, another of the groups sponsoring the campaign.
The TV commercials will air in Minnesota, New Mexico and New York, while the radio spots will air in Arizona, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and Washington, D.C. United We Dream, Moms Rising, and America’s Voice Education Fund also collaborated with the project.
“America’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths, and children of immigrants now comprise one quarter of all U.S. children,” says First Focus in the campaign’s web site (thisismyamericanstory.org). “Our country’s future prosperity will depend on the extent to which all children in America are connected to the stability and support they need to grow up healthy and contribute to the future of our country.”