Miami-Dade Commissioner urging Congress and President Obama to amend immigration laws for orphaned children

MIAMI-DADE – On May 5, 2009 during the meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, Nora Santiago, founder and executive director of American Fraternity (an organization that provides social services to immigrant families), provided a citizen presentation regarding the plight of more than 400 children who are left orphans by U.S. immigration policies when their parents are deported; she is their legal guardian.

Tomorrow, May 19, 2009 County Commissioner Javier D. Souto will be presenting a resolution urging the U.S. Congress and President Obama’s administration to amend immigration laws and policies to create an expedited legal process whereby American Children can petition for the U.S. Residency of their deported parents and minor siblings through their legal guardian in the United States.

“This situation leads not only to instability in children’s lives, but to substantial financial, emotional, and psychological problems for hundreds of children in our community who are U.S. citizens but who become orphans when their parents are deported,” exclaimed Commissioner Souto. At this time the county is the one absorbing the cost of this national immigration policy.

During the May 5th meeting, Commissioner Souto brought a group of children to explain their plight publicly; one child testified about losing everything and having to live in a two room home with nine people making it hard to concentrate in school and sleep at night. Meanwhile; another testified that with her mother and baby brother, she had to live in a home with no electricity after her father was deported.

“One of the fundamentals underlying U.S. law is that the interests of a child are rightly put above all other interests, yet the interests of a child who is a U.S. citizen and whose parents are deported is not receiving sufficient recognition under current immigration policies,” strongly emphasized Commissioner Souto. “These are children who were born here in the U.S. and have done nothing wrong, yet their lives are turned upside down when their parents are deported.”

The resolution urges U.S. Congress and the State of Florida to provide funding for the health, education, housing, nutrition and general welfare of such children. It also asks the Mayor researches and finds a source of funding for these 400 children at the federal, state, or local level.

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