A new report from the Hispanic civil rights group National Council of La Raza and the Urban Institute is calling for the release of any illegal aliens who are arrested, if they happen to be parents.
“ICE should develop a consistent policy for release of parents arrested in enforcement operations,” said the report. “Single parents and primary caregivers of young children should be released early enough in the day so that school children and children in child care to not experience disruptions in care; they should not be held overnight. Parents should be released quickly even when there are two parents in the home because the second parent often cannot function alone.”
It was just one of the recommendations in the document prepared for La Raza, the nation’s largest Hispanic advocacy group. However, the critique of federal workplace raids seeking illegal aliens fails to note an important factor, according to an advocate for legal immigration.
“Those children are in that unfortunate situation because of the poor decisions of the parents,” William Gheen, chief of Americans for Legal Immigration, told WND.
“And the government will send in social services, make sure those children are picked up by caring people, medically checked and receive medical and nutritional assistance,” he said. “It’s one of the costs of deporting illegal aliens, and it applies to anyone in police custody.
“I doubt you get that kind of treatment in Mexico,” he said.
The report, “Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America’s Children,” said the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement “should assume that children will be affected whenever adults are arrested in worksite enforcement operations and should develop a consistent policy for handling detained parents.”
It also recommended more congressional oversight of the agency “to ensure that children are protected and should also consider providing resources to school systems and local agencies that respond to children’s needs.”
School districts also should pay a cost for the arrests of illegals, the study said, by developing systems “to ensure that children have a safe place to go in the event of a school-hours raid.”
“In light of the report, NCLR has asked Congress to hold hearings as soon as possible regarding the status of children in the aftermath of raids,” the organization said.
The study resulted from a series of raids by law enforcement authorities on companies in Greeley, Colo.; Grand Island, Neb.; and New Bedford, Mass., in late 2006. Authorities detained about 900 people who were in the U.S. in violation of immigration laws. Some were cited, some given court dates and others deported.
Controversy then erupted over the children of those arrested and how provisions should be made for them. Churches, social service agencies, other families members all contributed to the services needed to care for the children involved.
In some cases, local churches provided help for weeks and months afterwards, the study said. Rev. Steve Brown of Greeley’s Family of Christ Presbyterian Church told the Denver Post the church donated food, clothing and time, but the work was made more difficult because of the snow and cold of December, when the raid was conducted on the Swift & Co. meat-processing plant.
“This raid was ill-conceived or conceived with real vengeance in mind,” Brown said.
But a spokesman for ICE told the newspaper it is not the agency’s fault.
“This report takes the bizarre position that ICE is somehow responsible for family disruption caused by parents who make poor decisions,” Tim Counts said. “Everyone understands that parents are responsible for their actions and the resulting impact on their families.”
The report also was criticized by Bob Dane of the Federation for American Reform, which supports reduced immigration. He told the Rocky Mountain News illegals hide behind children “as a justification not to be deported.”
“The blame needs to go to parents who put their children in jeopardy and employers who are hiring people illegally,” he said.
La Raza said two-thirds of the children of adults arrested in the raids were U.S. citizens, and there were more than 500 children who had parents arrested in the three raids studied. It also said that as of 2005, there were 9.3 million undocumented adults in the United States, with 4.9 million children living with them.
La Raza said it paid for the study by the Urban Institute “to obtain an independent, objective assessment of how recent immigration actions have affected the children of immigrants.”
“That we are putting the youngest, most vulnerable members of our society at profound risk is something that must be taken into consideration in any policy decision,” said Janet Murquia, NCLR president. “This report clearly demonstrates that it may be years before we know the full effect of the worksite raids on these children and the long-term costs to our society.”
But, in fact, resources to care for the children did appear, the report noted, and none needed to be given into the care of social services.
“Strong extended networks of families and friends took on significant caregiving and economic support responsibilities for children with parents arrested in the raids,” Urban Institute researcher Rosa Maria Castaneda concluded. “These resourceful networks were effective in ensuring that no children were left alone or taken into the custody of the state.”
The report said, “On the day of the raids, school districts in all three sites were effective in ensuring that children were not dropped off to empty homes or left at school overnight, but some children walked to empty homes. Because of the efforts of school district officials and extended family and community networks, no young children were left behind in school, left at home without adult supervisions or taken into foster care.”
And even if those social service resources are needed, that’s what they are set up to do, Gheen said.
He likened the situation to cases in which police arrest suspects in drug or other criminal cases. There, if there are children present, social services agencies go in and care for children at taxpayer expense.
“Maybe we should have magistrates or judges traveling with ICE, with mobile detention centers,” Gheen said. “They could set up court and detention centers provisioned with everything that’s needed. Then we could put illegals and their kids on provisioned planes and buses that are climate controlled [and have] baby formula, snacks and soft music playing so we can first-class them back to their homes and relatives as quickly as possible.
“There’s nothing inhuman about being putting on a bus or plane back home,” said Gheen.