The Collateral Damage of Deportations

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The Obama Administration's decision earlier this month to allow some undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation may eventually be seen as a turning point in federal immigration policy, but a recent New York Times article by Damien Cave shows the great extent to which deportations have affected Texas families.

Cave's article tells the story of Jeffrey Isidor, a 10-year old American born to Mexican parents. Jeffrey was attending Gleason Elementary School in Texas when his father, a 39-year old carpenter, was deported. Jeffrey's story is not an abberation; nearly 50,000 people deported reported having American children.

Mr. Isidoro, wearing a Dallas Cowboys hat in his parents’ kitchen, said he was still angry that his 25 years of work in the United States meant nothing; that being caught with a broken taillight on his vehicle and without immigration papers meant more than having two American sons — Jeffrey, 10, and his brother, Tommy Jefferson, 2, who was named after the family’s favorite president.

As for President Obama, Mr. Isidoro uttered an expletive. “There are all these drug addicts, drug dealers, people who do nothing in the United States, and you’re going to kick people like me out,” he said. “Why?”

The Isidro family are a prime example of the kind of people President Obama referenced in his speach announcing the change in policy: those who "are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper."

After his father was deported, Jeffrey struggled in school and longed for his missing parent. He eventually joined his father in the Mexican state of Puebla, but adjusting to life in a foreign country has not been easy.

There has to be a better way. Jeffrey and the tens of thousands of children like him are not – as Texas State Rep. Debbie Riddle said in 2010 – "little terrorists" or an "anchor babies." They are Americans. 

President Obama's announcement is a step in the right direction, but it is tragic that so many young Americans must decide between living and receiving an education in their home country or staying with their families.


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