Last weekend in a press briefing with Latino journalists, President Obama was questioned about the findings of our publisher the Applied Research Center’s new report, which estimates that over 5000 children are stuck in foster care while their parents are detained or deported. Obama responded that he’s “not going to pretend this hasn’t happened,” and pointed to general instructions he’s given to Homeland Security that deported parents should have access to their kids.

But as Obama acknowledges, the system is broken beyond the point of easy fixes. Seth Freed Wessler, lead author of the “Shattered Families” report in question, contextualizes Obama’s remarks within his actions. It’s well worth a read, as is Julianne Hing on the DREAM students turning themselves in to ICE to show, as they say, that “Obama continues to lie” on immigration reform. Here on the Colorlines.com community, the President’s remarks have inspired anger, frustration, and straight talk. Here’s what you had to say.

Fernando:

Wow, Barack Obama’s balls deserve a monument of their own, for him to sit there taking responsibility for a problem he promised to have solved “within the first year of his tenure as president”, and sliding the blame to the agencies he is supposed to lead as if they were really his foes and not part of his government, double standards, anyone?

Lea Reiter:

Why should it surprise us? He supplies arms to countries that kidnap and force children to become soldiers. Obama is not a friend of human rights.

Car Free:

And he facilitates torture. He also promotes the assassination of U.S. citizens without any sort of trial.

Tikkuntheworld:

As a Child Welfare Services social worker, I have seen my colleagues struggle to place citizen children with extended family members after the parents were deported for child endangerment charges. If family members are not documented themselves, CWS cannot do a thorough background check, and therefore cannot place the children legally in their home while parents are offered “family reunification services.” The injustice lies in the deported parents’ inability to engage in those services, and the research may show that CWS unfairly advances “bypassing services.”

It’s a mess. Good work in this area takes a savvy worker to navigate talks with the Consulate and DIF, the Mexican version of Child Welfare Services, to place children with “non-offending family” in Mexico. I have also seen undocumented foster children receive citizenship while in foster care. Dual citizenship seems a sad consolation prize for living through such trauma.

Lauren Sabina Kneisly:

Except some number of them won’t be stuck in foster care terribly long (if they’re young and cute) because the mandatory trigger deadlines on termination of parental rights will kick in rapidly for some number of these kids.

Under the “Adoption and Safe Families Act” (1997), any child who has spent 15 of the previous 22 months in foster care then begins to hit the program trigger dates for filing for the termination of parental rights. There is some flexibility in the program, but too many kids are simply swept into the system by the trigger dates.

The law requires that child welfare authorities file for termination of the birth parent’s rights; this has, naturally, disproportionately affected children of undocumented immigrants, prisoners, military families, etc.

Once parental rights are severed, states and their foster systems are under tremendous financial pressure and offered lucrative incentives to “re-home” any child made available for placement by way of adoption subsides.

I wrote about this, and the system these kids will be tossed, into a year ago here.

Ingrid Cruz:

Yeah Obama, and the fact that you haven’t really taken a stand about this atrocity is an even bigger problem. Executive order, anyone?


Each week, we round up the best comments in our community. Join the conversation here on Colorlines.com, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Read this online at http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/11/obama_knows_that_families_are_shattered_by_deportation_now_what_reader_forum.html


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