For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Michael Earls (202) 261-2388

In El Salvador, President Obama Calls for an Immigration System that Keeps Families Together; In America, DHS Separates a Four Year-Old From Her Parents

WASHINGTON - In El Salvador yesterday, President Barack Obama called for bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform.  He also said: “America is a nation of laws, and it is a nation of immigrants.  And so our job is to create secure borders, to make sure that we've got a legal immigration system that is effective and is not frustrating for families, doesn't divide families.”

The same evening, the New York Times reported that the Department of Homeland Security had recently returned a four year-old U.S. citizen to Guatemala after she tried to re-enter the country with her grandfather.  Emily Ruiz’s grandfather, who had a valid visa, was detained on suspicion of a decades-old immigration violation when he and Emily tried to re-enter the U.S. after a trip.  The parents, who are undocumented, say that officials gave them an untenable choice: turn their daughter over to the state of Virginia, or have her return to their family in Guatemala.

According to the Times, “Terrified that she would be given up for adoption if she entered state custody, Mr. Ruiz said, he agreed to put her on a plane back to Guatemala. “We were very worried, and my wife was crying and crying at what was happening,” Mr. Ruiz said.

The tragic story is yet another example of the President’s words not being matched by his Administration’s actions.  Despite pledging to focus efforts on the “worst of the worst,” the Department of Homeland Security continues to deport hundreds of thousands of immigrants with no criminal records, refuses to limit programs like Secure Communities and 287(g) to focus on convicted criminals, and continues to arrest and try to deport young people eligible for the DREAM Act.

Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice said, “The Obama Administration’s actions simply don’t match the President’s rhetoric.  He is right that our immigration system should strive to keep families together, not tear them apart.  Unfortunately, his Administration has done exactly that.  There is a wide gap between the President’s principles on immigration and the policies his government is implementing, and the human toll of this disconnect has grown to tragic proportions.  Yes, we need Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, but we also need President Obama to assert control over his Department of Homeland Security to ensure that its actions match the President’s commitment to enforce our immigration laws with discretion, humanity and common sense.”


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