It’s time to stop Trump’s deportation machine
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Hayley Chavarria is a spirited, bright and energetic 9-year-old.

She is a bundle of energy who collects stuffed toys, likes the New York Yankees and loves eating marshmallows. In many ways, she is typical of any 9-year-old American kid.

Except she is not.

Two weeks ago, Hayley and her mother, Nury, fled their home in Norwalk, CT to seek sanctuary in a church many miles away. Nury, an undocumented immigrant, had suddenly become a target for deportation under the Trump administration.

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The reasons are unclear. Up until then, she had been living in the U.S. for 24 years, working and paying taxes, leading a crime-free life and checking in with immigration officials as required. Yet during her last regular check in — and in front of little Hayley, ICE slapped an ankle bracelet on Nury and told her she had a month to leave the country.

 

Nury recalls that moment with sadness — “my daughter and I both started to cry. We were both in shock.”

Hayley is one of an estimated 4.1 million U.S. citizen kids who live with an undocumented parent.

These young people live with the constant and terrible fear that their government will at any time, for any reason use its enforcement power to wrench them away from their parents, leading to permanent family separation, possibly resulting in their becoming wards of the state. Thousands of kids — at least 5,000 — have already faced this predicament.

These fears could not be more pronounced under this administration, whose immigration agenda is extreme and anti-family. Thanks to Trump’s executive orders, ICE has now been encouraged and emboldened to go after any and all of the 11 million who are undocumented.

No matter how many U.S. citizen kids they have, how long they have lived here, or what their contributions are to this country. As Nury’s lawyer succinctly put it “It’s ICE unchained, a rabid dog now, no limit in sight.”

Things are likely to get much, much worse if Congress acquiesces to Trump’s demands that the FY 2018 budget include an additional $5.4 billion on immigration enforcement.

If Congress approves the funding, it will only mean more raids, more detention facilities, more ICE officers in our communities and more deportations leading to the separation of yet more immigrant families.

Which is why immigrant families and U.S. citizen kids of the undocumented are stepping up to join the Not1Dollar campaign, focused on fighting against the allocation of more dollars to deport more families.

All around the country, U.S. citizen kids of immigrant parents have included in their summer plans visits to their legislators during the August recess, in order to urge lawmakers to pledge to keep families together by voting against a budget that so directly attacks their families and the values Americans hold near and dear as a country.

Legislators would be well advised to heed the message that these young people bring to bear, which is consistent with the views of most Americans, who do not support Trump’s anti-immigrant, family separation agenda.

And who still believe in an America that opens its arms to the tired, poor, and  “huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossedto me, I lift my lamp beside the golden floor!”

Kica Matos is the director of immigrant rights and racial justice at the Center for Community Change Action.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.