US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Children of the dearly deported

By Kevin Clarke | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Critics will likely dismiss the gesture as a disingenuous publicity stunt, but a recent federal suit on behalf of 100 South Florida children depicts a real problem emerging from the nation's bipolar relationship with its undocumented community: what to do with the U.S.-born citizen-children of undocumented people in line to be or already deported from the United States.

Many of the children included in the suit have lost both parents to deportation; some have one already gone and another gone underground. Whatever the specific experience, all the kids share futures that have been thrown in grave doubt becasue of the uncertain legal status of their parents.

Although no one disputes the kids' citizenship, there has been plenty of argument about where they should end up. The church has long supported family reunification and a quality known as mercy in such cases, but with hard economic times encouraging resentment of immigrants, there are plenty of folk who think the kids should be reunited with their families alright, as long as the reuniting is done in Nicaragua, Mexico, Colombia, etc. The suit argues that it is a dishonor to the republic to force its citizens to repatriate in a troubled or impoverished part of the world, that we owe these first-generation Americans much better than that.

What we owe their parents and other family members, of course, is the essential question the plight of of these children asks us to address.