All they want for Christmas is their family back.
Dozens of children gathered in Washington Thursday to hand over some 10,000 letters asking Congress members not to deport their family members as a Christmas present, according to a group of nongovernmental organizations.
“Dear Members of Congress,” reads one of the letters. “My wish is that all families will stay together during the holiday season. I was lucky enough to grow up in America with the love of both my parents.”
Other letters raised the issue of injustice.
“It’s not fair that you Congress members get to your children every day and I only get to see him every 15 days in jail, if we are lucky to get a ride because it’s very far away, in another country,” 12-year-old Anthony Hoz wrote in a letter.
Hoz had attracted national attention last month when the Huffington Post published a letter he wrote to Judge Rex Ford begging him not to deport his father, who is locked up in Broward Detention Center.
Nineteen-year-old Eliza Morales of Los Angeles told the crowd about the experience of having her mother deported to Mexico five years ago.
“It was really difficult to deal with because I didn’t know if she was okay or where she has headed,” Morales said, according to the press release. “U.S. immigration policies are driving families apart, little by little. I want people to hear me, to hear us.”
Family separation is a common consequence of U.S. immigration policy. Some 46,646 undocumented parents of at least one child born in the United States were deported in the first half of 2011, according to figures from Immigration and Customs Enforcement cited by La Opinión. Around 5.5 million American kids have at least one undocumented parent, according to a study by the Applied Research Center.
The problem of family separation has likely grown under the Obama administration, which has deported record-levels of immigrants.
The “Wish for the Holidays” campaign was organized by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, First Focus and the Women’s Refugee Commission.
See what these kids have to say to Congress in the letters above.