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Immigration Status

The dictionary defines the word “orphan” as “a child whose father and mother are both dead.” Now there is a new kind of orphan.Orphan KidThese “orphans” are children whose parents—both father and mother—are very much alive, but have been deported from the United States because of their illegal status.You would think that illegal immigrants already have enough to worry about: Right from the moment he or she decides to try to enter the U. S. up to all the concerns and fears they have if they do succeed in getting and staying here.Mexicans, of course, have the treacherous challenge of crossing the southern American border with all its high tech surveillance devices and aggressive border agents. But just think of the Central Americans—Guatemalans, El Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, etc.—who face the additional challenge of crossing Mexico’s southern border, a passage that can be equally as dangerous, even if the border guards there can be more irregular and inconstant in enforcing Mexico’s regulations against illegals.Once here the perils of life in the U.S. as an illegal immigrant can be almost too numerous to mention, and can be the subject of later pieces.For now the problem of what to do about the new ‘orphans’ (children of deportees) needs to be addressed. From newborns to teens these ‘orphans’ are presenting governments, social services, and non-profits with a whole set of new problems. Foster care, health services, orphanages, child protective services and educators are all feeling the impact of their new class of “orphans.”Exact numbers are hard to come by. However, Homeland Security estimates there are about 11.5 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. today. Of these the number in the age range from 0-18 years could be about 12% or 1.3 million.Just imagine the situation of a six-month old child whose parents are put in detention or are actually deported. What the chances of this family being reunited? You can bet that they are pretty slim. Who is going to feed and clothe and watch out for the healthy development of such a child?Foster care or orphanages are the only alternatives that are likely. Once source reports that the U.S. spends $22 billion annually on children in foster care, averaging about $40,000 per child. Child protective services by law cannot even place children whose parents are undocumented.Not only the helpless infant, but also the school age orphan is at a tremendous disadvantage in his or her educational development.California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois face the brunt of these problems with over half of the immigrant population.More on these matters later.
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