June 11, 2014

Ben Soskin
(202) 225-1766

Measure to Keep Families Together Falls Short in House Appropriations Committee

Washington, DC – Today, Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and Adam Schiff (CA-28) offered an amendment during the Homeland Security Appropriations Act markup which failed by a vote of 23-26, but which garnered votes from two Republican members of the Committee. The amendment would have defunded the deportation of parents of U.S. citizen and legal permanent resident children. The amendment would ensure that funds provided to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be spent on those who represent true public threats rather than deporting individuals with deep roots in the community and tearing apart families.

"I am proud to cosponsor this amendment. It will prevent the deportation of parents who have young children and who pose no threat to their communities or our country,” said Rep. Roybal-Allard. “Today, about 5,000 American citizen children are in the child welfare system because of the deportation of a parent. This situation is both heartbreaking and completely unnecessary. Instead of tearing families apart, ICE should focus its limited resources on criminal offenders and others who endanger our families and our communities. It is critical that we take action on this issue. With every day that we wait, more families will face severe financial hardships, and more loving mothers and fathers will be unjustly separated from their kids."

“Our current immigration system is broken – and until we can come together to act on comprehensive immigration reform legislation, we have a humanitarian duty to mitigate the harm we are doing to millions of families – and in particular, the practice of deporting the parents of American kids,” said Rep. Schiff. “Inaction has exacted a terrible toll on innocent families and children – over 5.5 million children who themselves are in this country legally as citizens or lawful permanent residents, have at least one undocumented parent, and the stress caused by fear of deportation, or actual deportation, of a parent places enormous strain on a child’s well-being, disrupts developmental process and negatively impacts educational outcomes. It also runs deeply contrary to our devotion to family.”

The lawmakers plan to offer a similar amendment on the House floor during the debate on this appropriations act.

According to a Family Unity, Family Health study, “How Family-Focused Immigration Reform Will Mean Better Health for Children and Families,” in 2012 alone, 88,517 immigrants who reported to have at least 1 U.S. citizen child were removed from the U.S. Per a June 2013 report by Human Impact Partners, last year the U.S. spent more than $1.2 billion to deport parents of U.S.-citizen children.

“Today, well over 5.5 million children in the United States have at least one undocumented parent and the stress caused by the fear of deportation, or the actual deportation, of a parent is uniformly negative to a child’s health. It is unconscionable and un-American to expose a single child, let alone millions, to this cruel and unusual anguish and Congress should play no part in funding it,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition For Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). “The Schiff/Roybal-Allard amendment would protect the sanctity and integrity of the family unit here in the United States by defunding the deportation of parents and legal guardians of LPR/U.S. citizen children and other minors and those with deep community ties. Not one more American tax payer dollar should be allowed to be spent on the demise of our greatest institution, the family.”