Thursday, July 19, 2007

Beyond FATHERS: “Impounded Fathers” Column by Edwidge Danticat

Father’s Day has always been followed a couple weeks later by my dad’s birthday, which this year was celebrated during a highly memorable family reunion at my sister’s home in upstate New York. I mentioned this in my last post, but it’s fun to note again that my dad turned 77 on 07-07-07. He noted during the party that his first, middle, and last names all have seven letters. A bunch of my siblings got him lottery tickets for gifts and while they’d hoped to give him the fortune he deserves for putting up with all of us, he was happy to win a total of $33; I wouldn’t have been surprised if the tickets had added up to $77, it was that kind of magical day.

I’ve known my dad for more than half his life, and I can’t imagine a day of my life without him. Unfortunately, too many children grow up with little or no memories of their fathers. Belated thanks to Laila Lalami (who’s Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits I enjoyed reading earlier this summer) for a link to author Edwidge Danticat’s New York Times Father’s Day op-ed piece on the horrific impact of current immigration reform on innocent immigrant parents and their American-born children. The loss of one or both parents to strangers who flash badges and offer no explanations must be terrifying enough; the years spent wondering why a parent has disappeared and whether or not he or she will return is a devastating sentence thousands of American-born children are now forced to serve.

Danticat, an American author who hails from Haiti and was separated from her own father for eight long years, calls the most recent impacted families “casualties of a Department of Homeland Security immigration crackdown cheekily titled Operation Return to Sender. The goals of the operation, begun last spring, were to increase the enforcement of immigration laws in the workplace and to catch and deport criminals. Many women and men who have no criminal records have found themselves in its cross hairs. More than 18,000 people have been deported since the operation began last year.”

Danticat notes that a bill introduced last year by Representative José E. Serrano, a Democrat from New York, “would allow immigration judges to take into consideration the fates of American-born children while reviewing their parents’ cases.” “The bill has gone nowhere,” Danticat writes, “while more and more American-citizen children continue to either lose their parents or their country.

“Where are our much-touted family values when it comes to these children?” she asks. In her plea I hear echoes of Laini Taylor’s solemn Fourth of July post: “This isn’t the country we want it to be. It’s not the country it’s supposed to be.”

All this is so easy to ignore when you’re surrounded by your own beloved family, isn’t it?

Photo ©


Anonymous gerry rosser said...

Or, one could make the observation that decisions made by parents (or even parents-to-be) can have profound effects upon their children. Would our sypathies be equally aroused if a parent committed a crime and was sent away to prison for a long spell?
Truth is, I have such a soft spot for children I have a hard time with this whole thing.

6:32 AM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

I'm the same way, Gerry. Maybe someday the well-being of all children will be the top priority it ought to be. Thanks for stopping by my currently (to steal Patry's word) fallow blog. We'll get there! K.

12:04 PM  

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