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Kids of detained immigrants take legal action to stop deportation

Family members of detained immigrants are often shocked that their loved one, who isn't a violent or otherwise dangerous person, has to sit in a detention center while his or her immigration case moves forward. Families are split up, even when children in the family are U.S. citizens but their parents are not.

Consider the saddening detention story of one family in Newburgh, New York. The 18-year-old daughter, who is a student at a local community college, has had to essentially stop her life while she and her brother work on freeing their parents from immigration detention.

Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement appeared at the family's home one morning and detained the parents, who were initially taken to Federal Plaza in Manhattan. Matters became more complicated, however, when the father was moved to Bergen County Jail in New Jersey, while the mother was taken to Hudson County Correctional Center. For several days, the couple's children didn't even know where authorities had taken their parents.

Meanwhile, the kids are unsure if they can scrape together money to pay rent.

ICE's definition of a deportable immigrant is broad. In this case, the father, who is a bus maintenance worker, was convicted twice of DUI more than 10 years ago. The mother, who works at a local packaging factory, has no convictions. The parents were also ordered to be deported about seven years go, but they didn't appear for a hearing.

The immigration bill now proposed in the Senate would make immigrants who have been convicted of drunken driving three or more times eligible for deportation. The bill would also make immigrants ineligible for a for a legal change of status if they have three misdemeanor convictions.

As for this particular family's struggle, the daughter and brother have taken emergency legal action in an attempt to stop the deportation of their parents. Other families in New York who are going through this kind of ordeal should be aware of their legal options for keeping their loved ones near.

Source: New York Daily News, "Teen's life turned upside-down when immigration officials detain her mom and dad," Erica Pearson, April 18, 2013

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