Obama administration roils immigration debate with new policy | www.myajc.com

3
Sep

Obama administration roils immigration debate with new policy | www.myajc.com

Ty Ty — The Obama administration has quietly issued a controversial directive that could soften enforcement against immigrants living illegally in the U.S. with children.

The policy says federal authorities should give special consideration to parents when deciding whether to detain and deport them. It also would permit some deportees to return to the U.S. to attend court proceedings involving their parental rights.

Critics have blasted the policy as a move by the White House to relax immigration enforcement. One top congressional Republican said it “poisons the debate” on overhauling the immigration system. Supporters say the new approach is more humane and will prevent children from being traumatized and placed in taxpayer-funded foster care.

It’s unclear how many people could be affected by the policy, which took effect late last month. But since 2010, the government has carried out more than 204,800 removals of parents who claim to have U.S.-born children, according to federal records obtained by the Applied Research Center, a think tank that focuses on racial justice.

Many of those expulsions were apparently connected to the Southeast. Between July 2010 and October 2012, federal authorities working in the Atlanta field office — which covers Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina — obtained 8,790 final orders to deport people who said they have children born here. That represents the largest number of these removal orders over that period for all of the government’s field offices nationwide.

Elizabeth Gomez is among many children in Georgia who have been separated from their parents by deportations. She said the government expelled her mother in 2011 after she was charged with driving in South Georgia without a license. In 2006, her mother was charged with misdemeanor battery in Florida but was not convicted, court records show.

Gomez’s stepfather and younger sister left to reunite with her mother in Mexico, leaving Gomez in the care of her godfather in Ty Ty, a rural town west of Tifton. Gomez said she chose to stay so she could graduate from Tift County High School. Gomez spent last Christmas alone with her Chihuahua Duke when her godfather traveled to Mexico for the holidays.

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