Undocumented parents sweat out debate on immigration reform
These little girls are U.S.-born American citizens, but their father lacks proper immigration documentation.
June 14th, 2011
11:07 AM ET

Undocumented parents sweat out debate on immigration reform

Tough new state immigration laws are striking fear in the hearts of illegal immigrants with American-born children.

“I worry about my children,” says one father of two young kids in Carrollton, Georgia. He didn't want to give his name, because he has no legal right to reside in the United States. “My kids were born here. What will happen with them? We don’t know, and that’s the fear we have.”

Georgia, like AlabamaArizona and Utah, recently passed a tough immigration law.

The longer Congress waits to deal with immigration reform, the louder states seem to scream for action. According to the National Conference of Legislatures, an all-time high of 1,538 bills dealing with immigrants and refugees have been introduced in state legislatures this year alone. These measures include things like employment verification requirements for businesses and restrictions on public health services and college access for illegal immigrants. But the most worrisome for many parents are those giving local law enforcement more power to do federal immigration checks.

“Don’t worry!" is a message Atlanta immigration lawyer Charles Kuck gives his clients all day long. He’s one of those challenging the Georgia law’s constitutionality in federal court.

“These laws are bad, and they’re going to have a tremendous effect on the community. But for now we say, ‘Calm down.’ This law is meant to silence people, and we have to at this time not be silenced. We have to be vocal and not shut up.”

But for parents who fear separation from their American children, it’s easier said than done. About 2.5 million families in the U.S. have undocumented immigrant parents and American-born children, according to the Pew Hispanic Center's Jeff Passel.

“I’m planning to move to Miami, where I have some family,” says one undocumented mother of three who lives in Georgia. “But they tell me that the law is also being considered there.”

State lawmakers acknowledge many of these bills are meant to send a message to Washington.

“This problem is never going to be solved completely until the federal government deals with it,” says Georgia Republican State Rep. Matt Ramsey, author of the Georgia immigration bill.

So far, Washington has shown little reaction to states' enacting immigration bills. “The drive for comprehensive immigration reform has shown unsuccessful,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, told the Atlanta Press Club on May 20.

Two weeks earlier, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the club only that that she didn’t like a patchwork of states taking on immigration reform.

As federal immigration reform languishes, undocumented immigrant parents of American children gain time. If they can avoid deportation until their firstborn turns 21, that child can apply for his or her parent’s legal status.

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Filed under: Alabama • Arizona • Georgia • Immigration • Politics • Utah
soundoff (1,262 Responses)
  1. FreeTexan

    Like any other family,.the kids stay with the parents and have a choice of citizenship at 18. Military kids get uprooted and sent to a country where they don't speak the language and we call that a learning experience. Offspring of legal citizens do well or not, based on their parents decisions. How is this any different?

    June 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • klander24

      Um, children of the military are usually leaving on bases or have visas – they are there legally. That argument is just plain stupid.

      June 14, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • FreeTexan

      To clarify, I meant the parents should be deported and the children should go with their parents. Everyone screams about kids going where they don't know the language. It's not that big a deal.

      June 14, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bird sound

    ppl are forgetting about the indian massacre about Thanksgiving about how some part of the US was Mexican territory. how about all that? didnt the English settled here from another country? they came illegally or they did ask the indians before they arrived if they could take over their land kill them abuse them or feed them to the dogs? anyways where i work all we see white and african american abusing the system. driving bmws mercedes and still claming foodstamps and walefare.. and now we see hispanic ppl doing the jobs "americans" wont do. washing our cars cooking our food at mc.donalds or olive garden. My family comes from native americans ancestors and u dont hear us complaining of how they took our lands.. I apologize for any mispronunciation but you make me sick..

    June 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Weak Sauce

      ah yes, finger pointing through history. Very nice. And weak. I'll tell you what. You give mexico back to the indigenous people you ran over and intermingled with back in the 1600s, and we'll give back the U.S. to the indigenous people we ran over and intermingled with back in the 1700s.

      June 14, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpaio

      I am sure you are happy with the Casino Royalty checks your family receives.

      June 14, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • LT

      Come on, let's not keep using past abuses as excuses for current situations. The past is done. This issue is TODAY and needs to be addressed. I would like to remind you bird sound, of what happens to illegals in Mexico and other countries. What happens in the US is tame and actually fairly lax with even the newest state laws going on the books. I might also remind you of the British abuse of those future Americans and why there were driven to find another place to live.

      June 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dan

    It's not a loss of humanity, rather a loss of patience as illegals drain our state and federal resources.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • pierce

      Dan, you drain the humanity out of we Americans.
      Pls take your xenophobia back to Bosnia or from whereever you once sprouted.

      June 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gene Cole

    Should people become so leftist that they lose their minds?

    June 14, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      Knock off that idiotic "leftist" fear mongering, and grow up. I'm a "lefty" id iot. And I say boot them out.

      June 14, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      do not lump everyone who is liberal into this group. I am liberal, and m for big government high taxes, and HARDLINE IMIGRATION REFORM.

      June 15, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. Cythara

    The Illegal immigrants are a weapon being used by Zionists in this country as a part of a plan to destroy Western (European) culture in this country and replace it with a Jewish designed one. If you research the congressional votes regarding illegal immigration, you will ALWAYS see the Jewish caucus is voting to obscure legislation to prevent or stop the flow of illegals or introducing legislation to encourage and foster it.

    The Jewish caucus functions as a rudder in voting and are undeclared AGENTS PROVOCATEURS in the heart of our government. They are large enough to block any legislation they don't want and have influence enough to push through any they do want. They want to turn Americans into peons and peasants through overwhelming the general population and destroying the American education system. The real enemies of America are sitting in congress and government offices in Washington DC. Stop voting Jews into office. It is an act of treason on your part.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • LT

      Wow Cythara, you got issues, eh? It's Americans like you (if you are an American) that give this country a bad name. Why don't you go away somewhere?

      June 14, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Troy

    What? Not sure what you are trying to say, but these people broke the law coming here and they decided to have children which they can take back with them

    June 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Troy

      I am saying that maybe if they know they will lose their children they will think twice about having them here. I am sure they don't want to lose their kids and if we make that happen then maybe they will stop breeding in our country and decide to just stay in theirs.

      June 14, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • beaver fan

      i have an idea...why don't we just herd all these "illegals" into barracks, force them to work for their taxes that are not rightfully being paid. If they don;t we can start whipping them senselessly and start passing them out to land owners to "work". in the meantime, the "aliens", i mean the illegals can errect tall smoke stacks. One by One all of the "Americans" who are bible thumpers, and love thy neighbor (ONLY if they are Legal Americans) can shove each one of them in! oh wait....that already happened in history! 2011

      Illegals are the ones who clean up your s*** cause you're too lazy!

      June 14, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • SBT-22

      Hey Beav, go f your self.

      June 15, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. cwbybrick

    They're ILLEGAL ALIENS!! Jeezus christ, why not just call them Unregistered Democrats or Right leaning Republicans. The parents broke the law willfully and illegally. The kids can be put in foster care or be deported with the parents. Enough of this sh!t.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • FreeTexan

      How about calling Drug Dealers, Unlicensed Pharmacists?

      June 14, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Illegal is Illegal

    Their PARENTS are to BLAME!!!!! Not the United States!!!! They chose to break the Law – so now they have to deal with the consequences – too bad if their Kids hate them for getting them deported!!!! Maybe I should have some kids and break some laws and say "Don't send me away because I have kids!!!!".

    June 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dj

    They should be deported and their children with them. Illegals children should not be given citizenship. Deport them all. American taxpayers should not have to pay for these people.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scotty

      I agree – I think they should be sweating – they’re hear illegally!

      June 14, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • sameeker

      I agree. If I rob a bank and get home and give the money to my family before I get arrested, they don't get to keep the money. Children of Illegal immigrants should not get to keep citizenship gained by their parents illegal actions.

      June 14, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Logan

      All illegals should have a choice, be deported or executed!

      June 14, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay L

      They should be worried. They are here illegally and as such are breaking the laws but then want to use our own laws in their favor. Their border babies should not be a US citizen unless at least ONE parent is a legal US citizen.

      June 14, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      So, "American taxpayers should not have to pay for these people" but it's okay if American taxpayers foot the cost of rounding them all up and shipping them back to wherever it is they came from? How much do you suppose that would cost? Wouldn't it be cheaper to provide some sort of amnesty-related avenue they could take to register and become citizens? Then they could become American taxpayers, too, couldn't they?

      June 14, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • LT

      @Denizen kate: they should be rewarded for breaking the law? That's what your saying right? So if a poor guy robs a bank, maybe they should just let him keep the money. That would solve his problem, right?

      June 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Troy

    this is the lawyers email in the article. Write him and email and tell him he is wrong!!! If he gets a ton of emails than perhaps he will wisen up and stop helping illegals continue to be criminals.
    ckuck@immigration.net

    June 14, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sanantonio

    We have an illegal immigration problem in San Antonio, Texas. They live in big houses and have 4 or 5 cars and don't pay taxes and work and get paid in cash. They are living better than most Americans. They are also discriminating against whites here in many job sectors. It has gotten so bad here that white women owned businesses are considered a minority to the city government contracting department now. The highest percentage of whites is on unemployment line in San Antonio. There is not only a problem with the illegals living high on the hog but the legal ones discriminate against whites and blacks and put all their mexican friends in managment positions here and they don't care about EEOC. They do what they want here and think they can keep on doing it. ICE is just around the corner and they are trying to keep up. They all need to go with their minor kids and come back through proper channels and the legal ones need to be punished for discrimination.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Butch

    Then the laws are effective. They are designed to be a detterent to stop the scourge of illegal immigration. Americans don't have sympathy for these perpetrators.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. klander24

    Funny thing...no one seems to pay attention when someone who works hard and is supposed to have healthcare says he worries about his children because they are getting screwed by the insurance companies and can't get treatments. But, apparently, we should all be worried about the illegal children.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Illegalsgohome

    They, the ones that are here illegally, are labeled illegal for a reason. Its because they broke the law getting here, and are living here illegally. They are criminals and should be treated for what they are. Risks to our national security. Kick them and their anchor babies back to their home country. The USA used to be about immigration and we do have PROPER way to become legal. If you have not its time to go home. People like STFDoor talk about where is our humanity like protecting what is ours is somehow dirty and wrong and we should be more than willing to accept illegal action and let them be. So let us for a moment look at how some other countries deal with illegals. They get imprisoned, shot, hanged, beheaded, tortured, turned into slaves, sold. All we are saying is round them up and ship them home. If they want to be here they can follow the LEGAL channels if immigration. Otherwise they are no better then a target rich environment.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      Did literally ALL of your ancestors arrive here and become citizens in a purely legal manner? No one snuck through Ellis Island with false papers? No one stowed away on a freighter bound for New York or San Francisco? Are you sure?

      Do you even know what it takes to become a U.S. citizen? Do you have any idea of how much money it costs, how many years of bureaucratic nonsense you have to deal with? It's easy for you to sit there and write about how they should all do it legally, but it isn't that easy to do.

      As for rounding them up and shipping them home: who's going to pay for that? You going to open your bank account? Pay more taxes?

      Think much?

      June 14, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      Denizen...I am certain MY ancestors did NOT come here illegally. My mother and grandparents came here when my mother was three and went through the proper channels to be here LEGALLY. When my mother turned 18 she took it a step further and became a US Citizen. On my father's side, no one immigrated because this was their land first...he is Native American. I have done extensive research on my faimly tree and can confirm no one from my family is here illegally. So, to what you say, I say PHOOEY!!! If these people wanted to come here and live a good life on one stopped them from doing it the correct and legal way. As far as their children, they should not be considered US Citizens. If I steal a car is it legal for me to drive it around?? So if the parents are here illegally then their children born here are in fact here illegally. Just sayin'.

      June 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      @Dense Kate

      Can you say my ancestors in fact DID come here illegally? If you have proof, feel free to share. If not your hypothetical point is moot. On the other side.. we can prove the illegals are here as such, hence the ‘illegal” descriptor.

      Yes I am very aware of what it takes to become a U.S. Citizen. My wife and her family came here LEGALEY from Colombia. It does take money (no one said it was free) and it does take time (it’s not a right to come here.) But we do have the right to screen who we let in. And make sure they are held to the same responsibilities as natural born citizens. It does NOT however take that much money, and if you are not willing to put in the effort then you most not really want to come here.

      I have a solution to the cost of deportation. Work g -angs… arrest them and put them to work. (I suggest this for all convicted criminals.) If they have children, they will go to orphanages and the cost of their care will be added to the parent’s sentence.

      Seems YOU need to ‘think much’ ..mad’am.

      June 14, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Denizen Kate

    Mostly I'm all for a state's right to make their own laws, but shouldn't immigration into the U.S. of A. be a federal matter? It seems odd to have this issue being decided upon, often with quite different results, on a state-by-state basis. That's a road map to chaos, isn't it?

    June 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • sameeker

      The federal government won't enforce their own laws because the corporate lobby has paid them off in order to keep cheap labor. When that happens, the states have to step up.

      June 14, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      @sameeker, what's to stop corporations from paying off state legislatures, too? I still think this should be a federal concern. It becomes too confusing if the immigration laws differ from state to state. How do we enforce such laws? Do we build border crossings at all state lines, make all motorists stop and showID?

      June 14, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mara

      I think that you are mi-informed. NONE of these laws are 'immigration laws'. Immigration *is* a federal matter and left to the federal government. These laws are aimed at STATE jurisdictions, like business licensing, college eligibility, employment requirements and the like. It is the fault of the media that people think states are getting into the immigration business. The states do not make immigration law, they simply make laws penalizing people for not following those laws. The states do not deport, they simply turn over criminal aliens to the feds so *they* can do their jobs.

      These laws aren't 'immigration laws' per se. They are laws that are predicated on immigration requirements as dictated by the federal government.

      June 14, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
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