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Families for Freedom encouraged by finding that US deportation policy violates human rights of families & children

August 13, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 10th, 2010 – Contact: Manisha Vaze, 646-290-5551

Advocates say Obama’s brutal enforcement plans only perpetuate these violations

New York, NYFamilies for Freedom (FFF), a New York based immigrant rights organization, applauds the recent decision by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in their finding that US deportation policy is in violation of the human rights of families and children. The IACHR’s decision comes in response to Wayne Smith and Hugo Armendariz et al, v. United States, in which members of Families for Freedom testified and submitted personal narratives in 2007. Families for Freedom members are encouraged to see their voices being recognized in this important decision.

“While I’m hopeful that this decision will help to educate the general public and our representatives in Congress about the need for real immigration reform, it makes me sad to think of the many families and thousands of children whose lives have been destroyed and disregarded in the three years that it has taken them to come to this finding…and the hundreds of thousands whose lives have been destroyed since 1996 when the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) was enacted,” said FFF Board Chair Betsy DeWitt. IIRIRA transformed the immigration system into one focused on mandatory detention and deportation and as a result has left over 100,000 families divided in its wake.  “Currently there is a bill in Congress, the Child Citizen Protection Act, that if passed, would allow judges to determine the best interests of the U.S. citizen child before deciding whether or not to deport that child’s parent. How much longer before our legislators act to stop this madness?” DeWitt continued.  She knows this pain well as a mother of three whose husband, a green card holder, was automatically deported three years ago due to the now desperately broken immigration laws that are the result IIRIRA’s passage.

This decision marks a significant victory, but advocates say that the climate has only worsened. Deportations of noncitizens are at a record high under the Obama Administration, at 350,000 in the last fiscal year. Assistant Secretary of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) John Morton has expressed ICE’s intention to surpass this number to up to 400,000 deportations this year. Further, the Obama Administration intends to implement Secure Communities–a program that would allow local law enforcement agencies to check people’s immigration status at the point of arrest through a database, before any formal criminal prosecution has occurred–around the country by 2013.

“We see fathers and mothers deported every day without the opportunity to have the needs and human rights of their children taken into consideration. But, instead of finding solutions to this situation, the Obama Administration is only continuing to perpetuate unjust policies by increasing mass detention and deportation programs that only serve to destroy our communities and break apart our families,” commented Janis Rosheuvel, Director of Families for Freedom.  “IACHR’s decision is a welcome one that affirms the need to continue pressing forward until immigrant justice is a reality and not just a slogan,” Rosheuvel implored.

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