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Juan Francisco Martínez
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What are we going to do if dad is deported?

One of the most painful situations for those serving among people without legal papers in the United States is to help parents to make plans for the care of their children in case they are arrested and deported.

FEATURES AUTHOR Juan Francisco Martínez TRANSLATOR Olivier Py 23 MARCH 2017 09:09 h GMT+1
father, son, sea Photo: Tim Mossholder (Unsplash, CC)

One of the most painful situations for those serving among people without legal papers in the United States is to help parents to make plans for the care of their children in case they are arrested and deported.



Nobody wants to think about this possibility and the parents don’t want to unnecessarily scare their children. During President Obama’s administration parents who had children born in the United States were not deported, unless they had committed a crime. But in this new situation, immigration officers have already arrested people who would have been allowed to remain in the past. So we have to plan for the possibility of deportation.



For some people it seems obvious to deport people working without legal documentation. After all, they don’t have the right to be in the country. Nevertheless, the reality is that many of them have been living in the United States for many years. They settled in our country and their children were born here.  They put down roots in the US and many of them no longer have relevant relationships in their countries of origin.



We are a country that claims to believe in the importance of the family. For that reason immigration officers were given discretion to indefinitely postpone the deportation of parents (and any other person without a criminal record). However, being in the U.S without official authorization and using false documents to work was not considered a major felony before. Now with the changes that the Trump Administration intends to enforce, nearly any person working without legal papers will be a felon because they have to break the law in order to be able to work. So, they would all be considered felons and would be considered deportable.



If the administration decides to massively deport people living without legal documents, the impact will be felt in several ways. At a practical level, it would be almost impossible to deport millions of people from the country. The government does not have the infrastructure to do it. And realistically they would not be able to do it without trampling on people’s legal rights and probably also infringing on the legal rights of some US citizens.



But the impact on families would be disastrous. Studies have already demonstrated the fear the children of the undocumented experience and how the potential deportation of their parents affects their mental and emotional health, their studies and their overall development. If deportations are implemented as the President has promised, one of the impacts would be the separation of thousands of children from their parents and the necessity for them to live with other relatives or in foster care.



Of course the damages would be social and economic too. A lot of communities would suffer from the loss of their workers and people who contribute to the community. A lot of churches would be also directly affected. Some of them would even lose their pastors. And the overall economic damage to the country would be significant.



In the movie, A day without a Mexican, a question was asked: “What would happen to California if all the immigrants from Latin America were to disappear?” The recent protest of February 16 asked a similar question: “What would occur to the United States if it were deprived of all its immigrants?” The answer was in both cases, significant economic impact.



However, we are facing a strong anti-immigration spirit in a significant portion of the population of this country, a sentiment that is also represented by the current administration.



So, we need to help the families potentially affected by this situation. Although it hurts, although I pray that it will never occur, I must ask the question: What are you going to do if they deport mom, dad, or both?



Juan Francisco Martinez, Professor of Hispanic studies and pastoral leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary, USA.


 

 


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Mo
27/03/2017
04:41 h
1
 
"One of the most painful situations for those serving among people without legal papers in the United States is to help parents to make plans for the care of their children in case they are arrested and deported." They should've thought about that BEFORE they chose to come here illegally. And as Christians, we are not to be helping lawbreakers continue their lawbreaking.
 



 
 
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Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.