What images come to your mind when you hear the words, "illegal immigrant?" Do you think criminal, terrorist, victim, or do you think of a child? After the terrorist attacks of 2001, fear and anger gripped the nation. The American government reorganized how it categorized and treated immigrants. "In the new context, undocumented immigrants are. 'dangerous people' who threaten the homeland" (Barry 28). Authorities began rounding immigrants up like stray dogs, placing them in detention centers, and then deporting them without any form of due process. Several immigrants arrested were parents of citizen children ("Immigration Enforcement Actions: 2010" 1). The current treatment of illegal immigrants goes against federal laws to protect children (Baum et al.). While everyone agrees that immigration reform is needed, it continues to be ignored by the federal government. Meanwhile, government agencies continue to criminalize and deport illegal aliens with no regard to the collateral damage being inflicted on the children.
Deportation of one or both parents creates many problems for the children involved. The loss of a parent usually causes a loss of income. This means a family cannot pay their bills, afford food, or basic necessities. "Children who have lost a parent suffer psychological harm, undergo behavioral changes, and experience serious declines in health and educational performance. Children reported increased depression, sleeplessness, and anxiety" (Baum, Jones par.3). The federal government should reform current immigration laws including arrest, detention, and deportation of illegal immigrants to protect children from the emotional devastation and economic hardships currently being inflicted on them.
The children of illegal immigrants fall into two categories; children who were born in the US and children who were brought here by their parents.