Deportation: Then What?
What happens to the people we
choose to deport from the United States?
Under the Obama administration, more would-be immigrants to the United States have been deported than during any comparable period in our history. What happens to them afterwards? What happens to their families?
Parents have been forcibly separated from their U.S.-born children. Young people brought to this country as children have been deported to countries where they have no relatives or friends, no job or place to live – and may not even speak the language. Many who came here seeking asylum have been sent back into situations where they are at risk of ethnic, religious, or political persecution.
As noted on the website of the Post-Deportation Human Rights Project, “over the past decade, immigrant communities in the United States have been subjected to an increasing range of systematic human rights violations, including arrests without warrants, incarceration without bail, and deportation without regard to family ties, length of residence in the U.S., or other humanitarian factors.
Based at the Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Boston College, in Massachusetts, the Project is designed to address some of the harsh effects of U.S. policies, “providing direct representation to individuals who have been deported and promoting the rights of deportees and their family members through research, policy analysis, human rights advocacy, and training programs.” It also provides legal and technical assistance. “The ultimate aim of the Project is to advocate, in collaboration with affected families and communities, for fundamental changes that will introduce proportionality, compassion, and respect for family unity into U.S. immigration laws, and bring these laws into compliance with international human rights standards.”
The Project offers a variety of informational materials and other forms of support both to individuals and families threatened with deportation or seeking to return to the United States and to attorneys interested in helping deportees.
Families for Freedom: This New York-based organization describes itself as “an organizing center against deportation…FFF seeks to repeal the laws that are tearing apart our homes and neighborhoods; and to build the power of immigrant communities as communities of color, to provide a guiding voice in the growing movement for immigrant rights as human rights.” It publishes Deportation 101, the Financial Handbook for Families Facing Detention & Deportation, and other resources.
The Appleseed Network: Appleseed is a network of 17 public interest justice centers in the United States and Mexico. Its Immigrant Rights Program “works to ensure that immigrants are…afforded the rights and opportunities they need to become full and productive members of American society. It has a number of publications specifically aimed at those threatened with deportation, including Protecting Assets & Child Custody in the Face of Deportation.
The 2007 Independent Lens film Sentenced Home, by Nicole Newnham and David Grabias, did an outstanding job of getting inside the struggles of three young Cambodian-American men who “messed up” as teenagers and now face deportation from the only country they know. The film follows the two who were actually deported during the production, as they try to cope with life in a country that is essentially foreign to them. The third, Many Uch, went on a national speaking tour with the film, and is still, I believe, fighting deportation. The film is available on Netflix and from IndieFilm. Newnham and Grabias did an interesting follow-up report on his case, on the Independent Lens website.
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