Beyond FATHERS: “Impounded Fathers” Column by Edwidge Danticat
I’ve known my dad for more than half his life, and I can’t imagine a day of my life without him. Unfortunately, too many children grow up with little or no memories of their fathers. Belated thanks to Laila Lalami (who’s Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits I enjoyed reading earlier this summer) for a link to author Edwidge Danticat’s New York Times Father’s Day op-ed piece on the horrific impact of current immigration reform on innocent immigrant parents and their American-born children. The loss of one or both parents to strangers who flash badges and offer no explanations must be terrifying enough; the years spent wondering why a parent has disappeared and whether or not he or she will return is a devastating sentence thousands of American-born children are now forced to serve.
Danticat, an American author who hails from Haiti and was separated from her own father for eight long years, calls the most recent impacted families “casualties of a Department of Homeland Security immigration crackdown cheekily titled Operation Return to Sender. The goals of the operation, begun last spring, were to increase the enforcement of immigration laws in the workplace and to catch and deport criminals. Many women and men who have no criminal records have found themselves in its cross hairs. More than 18,000 people have been deported since the operation began last year.”
Danticat notes that a bill introduced last year by Representative José E. Serrano, a Democrat from New York, “would allow immigration judges to take into consideration the fates of American-born children while reviewing their parents’ cases.” “The bill has gone nowhere,” Danticat writes, “while more and more American-citizen children continue to either lose their parents or their country.
“Where are our much-touted family values when it comes to these children?” she asks. In her plea I hear echoes of Laini Taylor’s solemn Fourth of July post: “This isn’t the country we want it to be. It’s not the country it’s supposed to be.”
All this is so easy to ignore when you’re surrounded by your own beloved family, isn’t it?
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