6/14 – CNN – Undocumented parents sweat out debate on immigration reform – This Just In – CNN.com Blogs

Undocumented parents sweat out debate on immigration reform – This Just In – CNN.com Blogs.

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

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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One Comment to “6/14 – CNN – Undocumented parents sweat out debate on immigration reform – This Just In – CNN.com Blogs”

  1. To immigrant parents apt to be deported: I am a 71 year old mother and stepmother of seven, with 15 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. I am willing to accept guardianship of several children, with their parents’ permission, if the parents are deported. I promise that I would help the children to communicate with you regularly by telephone, email (if you would have access to it), and occasional visits to wherever you may live. I would never try to replace you, and I will do all I possibly can to help your children be reunited with you some day. I am in good health, have plenty of energy, a comfortable home, and I would love your children as if they were my own grandchildren. I live in a majority Hispanic parish in northeast Georgia and am a Catholic. If you want to contact me, please ask Attorney Charles Kuck to request my telephone number from GALEO.

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