Representative Luis Gutierrez recently stated in a town hall meeting that his children have it good. He leaves for work in the morning and they expect him to return that evening. But he pointed out that millions of children in the United States have a fear that when their parents leave that they will never see them again. Many times parents have been picked up at their work sites, detained, and deported with no one bothering to inform the children. Children are often told that if mommy and daddy don’t come home that evening, they should contact certain relatives who can help. They also live prepared to pack up and move at a moment’s notice. Sometimes when clients travel to see us from someplace outside the metropolitan Kansas City area, they bring their entire family because they don’t want to risk some of them being stopped, detained and deported and being separated from the rest of the family.
In response to the posting of the study on Youtube, one person remarked, “blame the parents.” How convenient. Apparently, we have no responsibility to children as long as there’s someone to blame. Maybe the parents brought them here without authorization, or maybe the children were born here after the parents came, or perhaps the parents overstayed a legal visa (about 40% of the people here without authorization are overstays rather than illegal entrants), but does that mean we have no responsibility toward them?
I remember several years ago, a baby in Texas fell down an uncovered pipeline in her parents’ backyard. “Baby Jessica” they called her. The entire community, indeed the entire nation, was fixated on the rescue attempt (which was ultimately successful, to everyone’s jubilation). The community and the nation could have easily said, “blame the parents.” It was, after all, their backyard and maybe they should have known about the open pipe.
Or perhaps when a child is injured in a car accident and the mother is at fault, we could simply refuse to rescue the child and say “blame the parents.”Certainly there is almost always someone we can point a finger at whenever there is a tragedy. What the “blame the parents” guy really means is that the parents don’t belong here, so anything that happens to the kids is not his concern. But the parents were coming to give their children a better life. That’s what good parents do. Maybe the fault lay in the Mexican economy at that time. Maybe the fault lay in treaties between governments that allow large corporations to purchase and drive off of their land millions of peasants who then came to the U.S. seeking work. Maybe the fault lay with U.S. employers who invited them to come and gave them jobs.
These issues are complex. The one thing we understand from a moral perspective is this: when we have the power to do good and refuse to do it, we are wrong. In fact, that is one of the classic definitions of “sin” in religious terms.We can’t simply sit back, shake our heads, and say “blame the parents.” We have a responsibility to do good when we can. Of course we can’t fix every wrong that’s in this world because we’re limited in our resources. But this one we definitely can fix. Every legitimate economic study on the issue has said that it is a net benefit economically for the U.S. to create a path to legalization for those who are here without authorization. It is not costing us anything. The cost of inaction, however, is great. Many of these children are U.S. citizens by birth, and will someday be leaders, employers, and workers in this country. What kind of citizens will we be raising if we continue to deport their parents and then wash our hands of any responsibility for the situation we could have changed, but refused?
By: Roger McCrummen
McCrummen Immigration Law Group