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  • Children Rally on the Hill to Keep Families Together in A Wish For the Holidays Campaign

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    Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard Joined Dozens of Children Who Delivered Over 10,000 Letters Calling on Congress to Stop Deportations

    Washington, D.C., December 12, 2012 –Dozens of children gathered on Capitol Hill to deliver thousands of letters as part of a campaign called A Wish for the Holidays. The letters came from 27 states written by children as young as four years old. The letters express one shared wish to Congress: stop deportations and keep families and communities together. The campaign highlights the negative impact of U.S. immigration policies on children and families.

    “These brave kids have traveled from across the country carrying thousands of letters that all bear the same incredibly important message,” said Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA). “If we claim to value families; if we acknowledge that children shouldn’t be needlessly separated from their parents; if we believe that everyone deserves a fair shot at the American dream; then we should end the policies that have shattered so many families and get to work on reforming our broken immigration system.” 

    Eliza Morales, a 19 year-old from Los Angeles, whose mother was deported to Mexico when she was 14 spoke to the delegation of over 40 children. Morales said, “It was really difficult to deal with because I didn’t know if she was okay or where she has headed. I felt like she had abandoned me. U.S. immigration policies are driving families apart, little by little. I want people to hear me, to hear us.” 

    Morales was also joined by Anthony Hoz-Peña from Miami. At only 12 years old, Hoz-Peña was separated from his father who has spent the last nine months in detention. He wrote in his letter, “It’s not fair that you Congress members get to see your children every day and I only get to see him every 15 days in jail, if we are lucky to get a ride because it’s very far away, in another county.”

    According to a report released in 2011 by the Applied Research Center, an estimated 5.5 million children in the United States have one or more parents who are undocumented immigrants. These children live in fear that their families will be torn apart as a result of detentions and deportations. 

    In the first six months of 2011 alone, more than 46,000 parents of U.S. citizen children were deported, a dramatic increase over previous periods. In general, children experience severe psychological trauma when separated from their primary caregivers. Children whose families have been separated as a result of deportation and immigrant detention often face financial hardship, emotional and behavioral problems, deep declines in educational performance and negative health outcomes.

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    A Wish for the Holidays is a project of We Belong Together, a collaboration of women’s and immigrant rights groups working to expose the negative impact of anti-immigrant policies on our families and communities, and to achieve a society that upholds possibility and dignity for all. WeBelong Together is coordinated by the National Domestic Workers Alliance and by the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum with leadership from First Focus and the Women's Refugee Commission.