By Sonia Osorio
MIAMI – A group of activists from Miami asked the United Nations to protect the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrant parents in the face of Washington’s delays in undertaking immigration reform.
American Fraternity announced Wednesday that it sent a letter to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in which it requested that the international body intercede on behalf of thousands of children who “despite being U.S. citizens have lost their civil and human rights.”
“We are directing ourselves to you in the hope of obtaining some kind of relief and justice for thousands of children and families in the United States who are suffering because of the (flawed) immigration system,” the group said in the letter.
The children, the group emphasized, are suffering the consequences of “years of failed immigration policies.”
The organization’s president, Alfonso Oviedo-Reyes, told Efe they had appealed to the U.N. Human Rights Council because Washington is a signatory of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which specifically contains the right to live with one’s parents.
The council, he said, “can recommend some course of action, a declaration so that the rights of the children are acknowledged.”
The document was released at a demonstration by some 40 children from Florida representing 600 who are part of a class-action suit filed in January against President Barack Obama to get him to suspend the deportations of their parents until immigration reform is approved.
“We feel that the abrupt separation from their families, the prolonged detentions without the right to go to court and the deportations of workers without prior criminal records, who have come to contribute to this nation, are a direct violation of the children’s rights,” the group says in the letter.
American Fraternity said that there are cases of children who have remained alone in the United States after one or both of their parents were deported, while other parents “are fleeing in panic at being separated from their families.”
In still other cases, the group added, the parents are spending months in detention centers and are then deported “causing emotional and physical suffering to the children because sometimes those minors have lacked food and the resources for their basic needs.”
Nora Sandigo, guardian ad-litem for child plaintiffs and executive director of American Fratenity, told Efe that although so far the start of discussions to reach immigration reform has “not even” begun, the raids and deportations continue on the national level.
In the city of Homestead, in Miami-Dade County’s southern agricultural area, the raids are being made on a daily basis with the “aggravating factor that the police are collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” the Nicaraguan-born activist said.
“I want people to know that this is happening and I’m asking them not to trust the police,” Sandigo said.
She said that the strategy being used consists of police officers coming to a residence and asking if anyone there had called the authorities. When the people open the door to tell them “no,” an ICE agent enters the house and takes the member of that family who is undocumented into custody.
“Many of those people in Homestead are from Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico. They shouldn’t trust the police because they are working together with ICE. We have witnesses to that. Even some of the children who are here today have witnessed that in their homes,” the activist said.
In the letter, the group also reports that in an attempt to get the attention of the U.S. government they have undertaken awareness campaigns, sent letters to Obama and filed the class-action suit in federal court in Miami.
“But nothing has worked with our government, which seems like it’s paying less attention to the matter (of immigration reform) with every day that goes by,” she said.
Sandigo said that as a “legal guardian for the children, I want to ask you to please help me so that all those minors and families are able to make their voices heard on the international level and so that their rights are respected.” EFE