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The Education and Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held hearings this past week concerning “ICE Workplace Raids: Their Impact on U.S. Children, Families, and Communities.” Witnesses explored how immigration enforcement could be improved in order to protect children, most of whom are American citizens.
Subcommittee Chairwoman Lynn Woolsey opened the hearing with a long list of ICE raids in immigrant communities, highlighting that 12 children arrested at the raids in Postville were children between the ages of 15-17, working at the plant in violation of child labor laws and that as of last Thursday, they were still in detention. (Why is the employer–Agriprocessors–still in business?)
We have 4.7 million children in households where at least one parent is undocumented. 3.1 million of these children are American citizens while many of the rest are our fellow DREAMers.
One example given was that of Kebin Reyes, a U.S. citizen who saw his father being led away by the ICE at the age of 6 and himself spent 10 hours in detention. Imagine a 6-year old American citizen in detention for 10 hours without his family for a civil violation commited by his undocumented father. Is that really necessary? Kebin suffered from severe emotional trauma as a result of this experience.
Separating families, traumatizing children, detaining them and disrupting their education serves no compelling state interest. We need more accountability and humanitarian procedures from the ICE in dealing with undocumented workers and their families.
Another video of the hearing is here featuring Simon Romo, Chief Counsel for New Mexico Child Protective Services.