"He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water." Isaiah 49:10

Monday, January 12, 2009

Children have rights, too

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

The economic crisis looms large on the mind of President-elect Obama as he gets ready to assume the torch of leadership from President Bush. Obama has cautioned the nation that the economy could get worse before it gets any better. No doubt, our country is caught up in a major economic crisis, which in turn has triggered a worldwide economic mess as well.

Amid all the discussion about deficits, trillion dollar budgets, tax cuts, a new organization is working to ensure that children born of undocumented immigrants in the United States receive the benefits of citizenship.

The Organization to Help Citizen Children has sent a letter to Obama asking him to consider some humanitarian support to children who are forced to leave our country. Many children have the right as citizens of our country to live here, and unfortunately, our government continues to disregard their rights under the Constitution.

Over three million citizen children are being denied the privilege of United States citizenship. Under the 14th Amendment, anyone born on USA soil is granted the right of citizenship. ICE continues to criminalize all immigrants and by doing so, has created a real mess of our existing immigration laws.

Joe Kennard, the President of the organization says, “With one or both of their parents subject to being deported for being here illegally, these innocent victims are subjected to being left behind to fend for themselves or in less than desirable or suitable arrangements.”

What Kennard’s organization would like, is for President Obama to consider “issuing an executive order staying the deportation of any parent of a U. S. citizen who has not committed a felonious crime until the new Congress proposes an overhaul of the current law.”

Family reunification should be one of the top priority issues that must be addressed in a comprehensive immigration reform act. Too often, families are being forced to leave their children behind in the United States while they face an uncertain future due to deportation for their undocumented status.

Parents are being forced to make one of the most difficult decisions a parent can make. The decision to leave their citizen children behind so that they can continue to work for a better future for themselves.

There are too many stories of young children being forced to leave our country after their homes have been raided by ICE and other law enforcement troopers from Homeland Security. The uncertain future that awaits them in their parent's homeland has played a significant role for parents to make the tough decision of leaving their children behind. Many of the children born here know little or no Spanish, making it difficult for them to compete in school. The culture shock many children face as they are forced to leave our country is a very difficult situation for them.

The Organization to Help Citizen Children aims to keep families together while parents seek to appeal to the courts to allow them to stay in spite of their undocumented status. The disruption of families being separated by an antiqued immigration system is morally wrong.

I find it very difficult to understand how our government has such total disregard for innocent families who only seek to find a better life. Instead, our immigration system works overtime to criminalize them and label them as felons.

In the letter to the President, it states, “The irreparable physical and emotional harm is being inflicted on these children. We can prevent this anguish by allowing these families to remain intact.”

Our country must offer these parents and their children a humanitarian option to remain together so they can continue to stay together as a family.

There is no doubt that the children of undocumented immigrants who were born here in the United States are American citizens. The only problem is they have no voice to speak for them. They have no one to champion their cause. That is what motivated Joe Kennard to help form the Organization to Help Citizen Children.

Kennard's commitment to helping children of undocumented parents is a genuine effort. He has gone one-step further by allowing one young woman stay in their home, where she is still able to hang out with her friends, and live the life she has grown accustom to. She is able to live in a culture she understands and wants to live in.

There is frequent communication with her parents, and every effort is being made to keep the young woman in touch with her parents. Yet, it is a sad commentary for other families who must face separation and see their young children stay behind.

Kennard is asking the new incoming President to address this issue by requesting that he consider “issuing an executive order staying the deportation of any parent of a U. S. citizen who has not committed a felonious crime until the new Congress proposes an overhaul of the current law. While there are many complex immigration issues that need to be addressed, it would seem that the well being and preservation of families would be paramount.”

To learn more about this humanitarian effort and how you can join the battle to keep and preserve families, go to this website: http://www.helpcitizenchildren.org

The family is one of our primary values and we must not allow the government to destroy the family structure. Let us join the effort to help citizen children stay with their families. We must work that immigration reform does not label these families as "illegal aliens." We need to keep in mind we are dealing with families who want to stay together.

At a time when divorce continues to destroy thousands of families, the families who are fighting to stay together should have our support to help them remain as families.

Why must we allow our government to push parents out of the country and leave their children behind?

Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

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