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. spurro1

    Wow strong backfire on CNNs attempt at a manipulative sympathy piece. Notice the picture focuses on the sweet innocent cherubs. It's always about the children! gimme a break.

    June 14, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • paulm5545

      You noticed that too? The headlines say they fear the new laws. Well, they should.

      June 14, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • donny77

      "People Breaking Current Laws Fear New Tougher Laws"

      Fixed the headline for you.

      June 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelly

      I AGREE!!!

      June 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Evergreen

    They just need to take their children with them back to their country.
    Some illegals have more money than legals or american citizens because they don't file taxes.They hide their money.

    June 14, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelly

      I DO HOPE THAT OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS WILL IMPLEMENT OUR LAWS. I AM SICK OF THESE PEOPLE COMING TO AMERICA AND FREELOADING OFF OF OUR SYSTEM! WE HAVE ENOUCH FREELOADERS WITHOUT FOREIGNERS COMING IN AND DOING THE SAME THING!!! WHY DON'T THEY TAKE THEIR CHILDREN BACK TO THEIR NATIVE LANDS? IF LIVES ARE AT RISK IN CERTAIN "UNSAFE" COUNTRIES THAT IS A DIFFERENT STORY. WE CANNOT BE THE WORLD POLICE! BESIDES I AM UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT MOST OTHER COUNTRIES DON'T LIKE US AMERICANS. THEN WHY DO THEY WANT TO COME TO OUR LAND IF THEY DON'T LIKE US. GO BACK HOME!!!

      June 14, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Human, world

      It is just one side of the issue. Reality is different. Many are paying taxes and some are not. But still condition is same like before , no improvement. And with paying taxes, there is hard work also. It is not just because of hiding taxes. Very very low percentage of it compare to hard work. Just see the issue at the point of view of humanity then everything will be different! Solution demands very careful decision that will effective for long period of time and the most important thing is it has to be positive that connect people, not separate! America is for every one who is making strong by labor and paying taxes to make the country strong! Just need to understand people by the people!

      June 15, 2011 at 4:10 am | Report abuse |
  3. rbmeoe

    The problem is easy to solve. 1) make employers legally responsible for hiring illegals, they go to jail if caught employing criminal aliens, if there are no jobs, there is no reason to come here. 2) the idea of giving citizenship to a person born on American soil was for the children of slaves brought here as slave labor. It was not meant for the children of criminals that came here illegally. Children, until 18 years old, are the responsibility of the parent. Deport the parent and the child together. When the child turns 18, they can come back as a full citizen with all rights and privledges, until then, they stay with the parent in their original country unless the parent gains LEGAL entry into the U.S. 3) also make it illegal to sell or rent housing to a criminal alien. If a seller of a home or landlord of a rental property is caught dealling with illegals, they go to jail. If there is no place to live, there is no reason to be here. 4) have legal proof of citizenship to vote, get into schools at any level, and to receive aid in any form such as medicare/medicaide, food stamps, social security, loans, etc. If there are no jobs, no housing, and no financial or medical assistance available, there would be no reason for them to come here. I have no problem with legal immigrants. Our country was built on immigrants, unless you are 100% Native American, you are an immigrant. I have a problem with people breaking our laws, depleting our resources, taxing our systems and then complaining that they are not getting enough from our government or country!!! They are, by definition, criminals, and do not have any rights or privledges within our boarders as legal citizens have!!! Get them all out and let them come here LEGALLY, and they will be welcome!! Until then they are criminals and need to be treated as such!!!

    June 14, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cassie

      Totally agree – enough with people coming here bleeding the welfare system because they're popping 3-5 kids they can't afford to support, working off the books and NOT PAYING THEIR TAXES!

      June 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • deutsche001

      Amen!
      The solution is so simple; our politicians just do not want to offend anybody.

      June 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • donny77

      I do take issue with point 1. Employers should be accountable for knowingly employing illegals and especially treating them inhumanely. However, it is the Government's job to secure the borders. It SHOULD be a reasonable assumption that if you are in this country you are here legally. If employers have to do background checks and investigative work other than being provided a valid SSN, the government has failed not business.

      June 14, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ana

    This country was made of immigrants so for all of you sitting here bashing these "illegals" take a look at where YOUR ancestors came from. And not all illegals are mexicans they are from all over the world but the media and other people who are ignorant simply go off what they see on tv instead of researching. Many of these people came for a better life for themselves and their families. They work hard pay for taxes and do everything each and every one of you do except they lack 9 digits that make them legal. As for the go back to where you came from and enter the country legally for the kids who are citizens, then this also goes back to your ancestors did the indians and otherrs who were here before you tell your ancestors to pack up their kids and themselves and go back to where they came from??? NOOO It is easy to talk and judge based on what you see in the media but once you do your research maybe a few of you can rewrite posts with a more educated view on immigration.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • richunix

      That is another time (200+ years ago) . This is 2011 not 1600....move out and get out!

      June 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nemo

      This country is made of WHITE immigrants – you rhetoric does not apply. The law that prevents children of illegal garbage from becoming US citizens needs to be passed and enforced....THEY ALL NEED TO DEPORTED!

      June 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cassie

      It's not just the media Ana-it's also in the supermarkets, everywhere you look at these immigrants birthing 5 children taking advantage and bleeding the welfare system. Why aren't they protesting in their own country about the lack of jobs and why their government is doing nothing to help them--which is why they're flocking here in the thousands-they're protesting in the wrong country, we're the ones paying them!

      June 14, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike hunt

      one difference, the ones that made this country came here LEGALLY!

      June 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • deutsche001

      They pay taxes?
      What they do is steal other peoples 9 digit's and find work.
      Yes, they are looking for a better life, but if you are not willing to do it the right way, than go back home. Quit draining our resources!
      We feed and cloth the children, pay for their education, give them "free" medical care and us working legal immigrants have to pay for all of it.

      June 14, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      where do you think where they get the money in the first place while shes pregnant they use taxpayers money they are not taxpayer, using excuses for their children
      Enough is enough besidse if they want to work here they HAVE TO PASS the exam and speak english

      June 14, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      I don't know why you have illegal in quotes, since the laws are focused on people who have entered out country illegally. While I don't agree with the knee jerk response that states are making, I don't agree with people who blur the line between legal and illegal immigration. Unfortunately, the federal government has ignored the problem of illegal immigration for so long there is no easy solution so states are trying to come up with their solutions. To me this is just an extension of the Federal vs. States rights battles that lead to the civil war.

      June 14, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ka

      Hey Ana,
      My grandparents on both sides were immigrants, but they came through Ellis Island, and became legal citizens. they paid their dues and never asked nor received any type of assistance from the goverment. Yes, I agree, unless your an american indian we came from immigrants but not many of them were illegal, especially like we are seeing now in this country. I hate to say this but I am really tired of seeing and paying for illegals food stamps, housing and medical insurance when I can no longer pay my own. As far as I can see, the only plan I have in the future is too denounce my american citizenship, then sneak back into the country to be able to tap into all the assistance that is out there for these illegals. Starting in September I'll have 2 kids in college, I'm sure we they will get all kinds of financial aid, with illegals as parents.....

      June 14, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blaum

      nice try..... but they are illegal.... and that means they broke the law. Tell me.... what other laws should we all start breaking?.... tell me.... because I'm having a hard time understanding your logic about not upholding the law. If you have lawlessness.... you no longer have a civilized nation....

      June 14, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Miami

      I do know by back round. And sorry to say I did come to this country when I was 5 years old with my father. And I am very happy and proud to say my dad enter legaly and so did I. My dad in the 64 years of life that he has never has used public assistance. Has always pay all of his taxes. The only thing I can say is the same why many of us enter legaly and pay our taxes year after year they should do the same. If they want to be legal weather they have been here 1, 5, 10, 20 years as an illegal immigrant they should pay all those back taxes and this goverment should be allowed to become legal other than that. Send them back HOME

      June 14, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ana

      http://www.illegalimmigrationstatistics.org/do-illegal-immigrants-pay-taxes/
      Read this article which will show you that they DO pay taxes and will probablly never be able to recieve their check when they get older while you sit on your computer complaining about them taking "your" money when in reality they are working. Also in the 1600's or when your family came who told them they were here legally NOONE but because you are here living comfortably and do not want to accept that then you feel that they were in no wrong they fled from their countries like these immigrants are. In that case why didn't your ancestors go protest to their countries for a better life but instead fled to America so in that case i guess your ancestors must be garbage too. You see in the supermarkets 5 kids and so on but have you really paid attention if they are really here illegally or are they the americans of hispanic descent who have come to this lifestyle of relying on government like whites, blacks, asians and all others do. When immigrants go and talk to people about immigration they are discouraged from getting welfare and other government help because it will hurt them once they apply for legal status. Many are scared that if they do apply they might be deported but there are those who ask for government help i won't deny that but in that case what do you say about the white,black,asian,hispanic(who ancestors are from here) or other races who are sitting at home everyday having more and more kids while me and my family are working and going to school what do you have to say about them maybe our country wouldn't be full of obesity and in such debt. and this country may be partly made by "white immigrants" but there were indians and others before them but of course immigrants today will not run people from their land and force them to live in remote parts or kill them off we have a little more of a heart than that. In the end all these people want is to better their lifes just like our ancestors maybe yall should a closer look into the process of gaining legal status compared to the money some of these immigrants make and then yall will see that the immigration system has to change. These people aren't happy being here illegally because they are always in fear of not knowing if they will see their loved ones later on. All they want is a better life for themselves and their kids just like me, you, and every other person in this country does. So instead of bashing them why don't we work together so that something can be done where these people that are here can go through a process and be able to be here legally because at the end of the day what does all of everyones hate comments and fighting accomplish for everyone???? NOTHING!!!!

      June 14, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Legal Citizen

      I will tell you exactly where my ancestors came from. They sat in Italy, completing complicated paperwork and waiting months and months to hear back from the American government about whether they could enter the country legally. Eventually, their applications were approved, and they arrived at Ellis Island. They did everything the right way. They came knowing little English and not having higher than an 8th grade education. They worked hard, learned the language, and took whatever jobs they could get to pay their own way. Not once did they take any time of governmental assistance. I'm so proud of them for what they did.

      I'm so sick and tired of hearing the stories of the poor illegal immigrants who had children here and don't want to leave them. You broke the law. You should not be rewarded for it by being given citizen status. Leave, come back legally, and live here if that's what you want to do.

      June 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • rbmeoe

      I'm sorry, but it is those 9 numbers that make all the difference!! Illegals, as the word implies, are criminals. They have broken the laws of our country and deserve no rights or plivledges as legal immigrants or citizens have a right to. The fact that they are having a difficult time or that their motives are honorable is irrelevant. If I had lost my home and job and had no money or food, do I have the right to break into your home, steal your food and clothing, take your belongings to sell for money and walk away scott free? Just because I wasn't stealing it to buy drugs, alcohol, or weapons, does not make it right. I feel for those people that live in countries where their governmet does not care, but they need to fix their country, not come along and make ours worse by taking advantage of our generous nation!!!

      June 14, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kathy, Washington DC

      WHAAAHHH!!! Shut up! Nobody cares!

      June 14, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. reality check

    What part of illegal don't these people understand? When a particular behavior or activity is characterized as illegal it means that the activity in question is unlawful and therefore must be righted by making the situation lawful. The scenario described within this article is righted by the deportation of the offending party. Since there are children involved, the responsible parent is required to insure their well being and safety. That decision can only be made by the responsible parent. If there happens to be legally residing responsible relatives of the parent in the U.S., the children can remain with them until the offending parent can obtain legal residence status. If there are no legally residing relatives with which the children can safely stay, then the parent needs to consider other options including taking the children with him/her.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. twistedpuppet

    Hey "From Texas", how about we start with companies like Tyson and several factories up in Virginia who knowingly hire illegal immigrants and even provide housing that they charge them rent for and are on factory property. I've seen what that factory housing looks like. It looked familiar, like I had seen it before. You know where I saw it before? In a history book. The housing these factories provide for illegal workers is almost identical to the housing that was provided to slaves pre-Civil War. Let's go after the people who offer the jobs that keep illegals coming into the country.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • sweet_genius

      Maybe we should all boycott companies that are known to hire illegals. Where we spend our money matters – Boycott!!!!

      June 14, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bill, Bloomington Il

    Thanks to BaBad I now know where. your canned liberal answer is very stale. My father came to this country as a legal immigrant, didnt hide his name and face, and waited 40 years to become a citizen. I suggest you educatied yourself before sounding stupid when you blog. There are no native Amvericans as the name America came from the European settlers. Maybe natives but not native Americans. Wikipedia is a great place to start.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Miami

    If you have been in this country for so many years the main question is why have you not tryed to become legal? If the US really want to help all these illegal imigrants they should, Make each and everyone pay back taxes for all the years they have been in this country. If they had a child born here in the US they should pay the pass due balance they have with the the tax payers. Also, if at any time they were on food stamps they should have to pay all that back. I am pretty sure if they have to pay all these money back they are going to leave the US. These illegal people want there things easy. I am a tax payer of this country since I was 15 years old. Right know if I need some help from the goverment they tell me NO since there is no money due to the fact that all the illegal immigrants balances to this country. GO BACK HOME and COME BACK LEAGAL AND PAY YOUR MONEY just like I due.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Andrew Smith

    How about fixing the legal imigration first? I am legally in this country for nine years and still not a permanent resident. Companies won't file the green card as it costs them much and I cannot file my own.

    After paying taxes for nine years, I have to go back next year. Well for good.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      I got mine in no time.

      June 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • richunix

      Andrew, If that is your real name, but you need to leave the country and re-apply for admission. Sorry if you done it right the first time , you wouldn't have to post under a pseudonym. Our quality of life is staring to suffer under the weight of third world minimally educated illegal’s.

      June 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kevin

    If we were to grant pathways to illegal immigrants we would have so many more rushing the border for the same right. Before we know it are country would soon be overrun. Currently we are being invaded by illegal immigrants slowly taking over our country. Ship them back no reward for illegal actions. Send a clear message to our congress person and president that there should never be a reward for illegal actions and we as the tax payers are tired of supporting illegal immigrants just so they can get votes.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. richunix

    If your DO NOT belong here, then leave. If you have children born here, because you entered this country illegality, then your son or daughter is a citizen of the country of YOUR birth. Sorry, committing a crime and then using the laws to benefit you is not right. As for lawyers, you need to inform your client TO GO BACK TO THE THERE COUNTRY of origin and apply like the rest any else make you a conspirator to commit a federal crime and you should be disbarred period ...no argument.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JoAnn

    States should take the kids away if the parent is not a legal citizen. If they don't want that to happen, then the parents should go back to their own origin country. Our government could even buy a few planes to fly them back at our expense and I guarantee it would be okay with the majority of this countries real American citizens.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Absolutely they can take their stinking brats with them, yeah and I would be glad to pay for their return if they get shot if they try to cross the border illegally again.

      June 14, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Leona

    The word illegal is all I need. We have a problem with unemployment – we have a problem with health care. We have a problem with taxes. Illegals should have to pay taxes, health insurance and contribute to the IRS. Instead, they send the money home to their country and we foot the bill for them. I don't object to people from other countries: I object to having to push one for English, for having to pay more than my share to health insurance and taxes. If you had a child here, who paid for it? Giving birth on American soil SHOULD NOT make a citizen unless the birth parents are citizens. Who made that idiot law? Our Congresspeople are about as dishonest as the illegals that they support. Find out how your representative votes, and vote them out of office if they can't support our American Laws. I thought they were lawmakers – and it's up to them to make sure these laws are obeyed.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mark

    DEPORT DEPORT DEPORT. The heck with CNN on who's side are you???

    June 14, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • sweet_genius

      This is not the first time I read an article like this from CNN. Maybe they are too stupid to realize that the MAJORITY of us have had enough and one day, we will take this country back. Then who will you write articles for? We are your future, choose your side now.

      June 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Gadsden

    We have got to keep families together. They can all be deported back to their country of origin together. Better yet, they came here illegally on their own, they can leave on their own. Illegals come here for handouts, they will leave when the handouts end. When we deny welfare, jobs, health care, education and citizenship to illegal aliens and their children, they will all leave on their own at no expense to taxpayers. We are broke, we cannot afford to educate, medicate, and incarcerate illegal aliens and their offspring. Alabama has the right plan.

    Support the SAVE Act!
    End Birthright Citizenship!

    Numbersusa.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
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