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One in four deportees have children who are American citizens

Recent statistics indicate that American families numbering in the hundreds of thousands have been affected by the deportation of a parent living in a household characterized by the mixed immigration statuses of its members. Specifically, more than 200,000 parents of American citizens were deported between July of 2010 and September of 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

As high as these numbers seem, immigration experts indicate that they may not accurately reflect the scope of the issue. This is because many parents being deported fear admitting that they have children living in the United States, lest their immigration status be challenged. In fact, three-quarters of the millions of children living in the United States in 2008 whose parents were illegal immigrants were United States citizens themselves.

Legal avenues exist for governmentally recognized family-based immigration. However, many factors contribute to the mass deportation of fathers and mothers of American mixed households. Perhaps most importantly, parents who have been in the United States illegally for some time fear coming out of the woodwork in order to obtain legitimate status precisely because they do not want to risk being deported.

Unfortunately, around one-quarter of all immigrants deported in any given year are the biological parents of children who are American citizens. Even though it can be truly frightening to pursue a path to a legal immigration status, it is worth speaking to an experienced immigration attorney about, as failure to do so can lead directly to the deportation that these parents fear so deeply.

Source: ABC News, "A Quarter of Deportations Are of Parents of U.S. Citizens," Ted Hesson, Dec. 17, 2012

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