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The Costs of American Immigration Policy

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Perhaps the blackest mark on the Obama Administration has been the significantly harsher enforcement of American immigration law and the subsequent deportation of people, breaking up families.

Twelve-year-old Jason Penate spent the holidays hanging close by his father. They picked out a Christmas tree and decorated the front window of their Gainesville, Va., home with candy canes, and Jason tried very hard not to think about whether his father would still be here in the new year.

Jorge Penate, a Guatemalan national who came to the United States illegally in 1997, has a hearing scheduled Monday that will determine whether he can stay in the country. A drunken driving arrest two years ago launched deportation proceedings and cast his family’s future into uncertainty.

Jason wrote a letter to the immigration judge, explaining that the three days his father was detained in 2011 “were the worst days of my life” and asking not to be separated from him again. “If he does have to leave I think every day of my life is going to be the worst,” Jason wrote.

More than 1 million illegal immigrants were deported in the past three years, a record number reflecting increased enforcement efforts under the Obama administration. The crackdown has spun the lives of hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens — including children like Jason — into upheaval.

In fiscal 2012, an estimated 150,000 U.S.-citizen children had a parent deported, according to a study by Human Impact Partners, a health advocacy group.

I know that Obama would sign a good immigration reform bill that would mitigate some of these problems and it’s not his fault that racist Republicans in the House won’t pass that bill (Boehner is talking about getting something through at least, giving me some hope. We’ll see if he’s really willing to stand up to the racists in his caucus. Color me skeptical). But it is very much Obama’s fault that he’s actually increased deportations of such threats to this nation as hard-working fathers and mothers of small children. Really unacceptable.

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