As I have addressed before, the Republicans’ Immigration bill will hamstring local governments because law enforcement will be required to arrest, incarcerate, house, and feed the estimated 120,000 illegal immigrants in Alabama. A hidden cost which might break the State’s bank is not the illegal immigrants themselves, but the immigrant’s children.
In January 2009, DHS’s Inspector General reported that between 1998 and 2007, the government deported 108,434 alien parents of U.S. citizen children. DHS data estimated that from 1997 to 2007, the United States deported the lawful permanent resident mother or father of approximately 103,000 children. (44,ooo of these children were under the age of 5 when their parent was deported.)
When these illegal immigrants are arrested for “trespassing,” what happens to their children? How should the state justly handle these “diasppearing” parents and their children? From my experience, the State of Alabama via the Department of Human Resources becomes the permanent custodians of these now “dependent children.”
These children will immediately be removed and separated from their parents without a real possibility of reunification. The current Republican bill does not allow a person to be released “for any reason.” Unlike federal deportation proceedings, this bill does not allow for judicial consideration whether the immigrant is a primary caretaker of children or whether there exists “urgent humanitarian reasons” or “significant public benefit.”
These children will be processed through our juvenile courts in “Dependency” proceedings. (NOTE: 88% of these children are US citizens.) The courts will ascertain what placement is in the ‘best interest of the child.” I have never seen deportation considered in the best interest the child. Accordingly, custody will likely be vested with DHR and DHR will then pay foster parents to raise these children as well as have provide Medicaid for health coverage.
Termination of the parental rights of these disappearing parents will more than likely occur. Once children come into custody, in order to move children out of foster care to a permanent living arrangement more quickly, the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act mandates that if a child remains in an out-of-home placement for fifteen out of twenty two months, the state is required to initiate proceedings to terminate parental rights.
Illegal immigration is an extremely complex issue. We have really gummed the situation up. Simplistic solutions does not do justice to the problem nor the people involved.
Many of us call ourselves “pro-family,” this public policy debate will demonstrate whether many are pro-family or just anti-homosexual marriage.