Let’s march on Father’s Day

On Sunday, families of all ethnicities and races will spend at least a few minutes celebrating Father’s Day.

Many Hispanic immigrants, who have a family-based culture, will celebrate with international calls or videoconferences, sending gifts and a bit of extra money back home. Long-distance relationships are part and parcel of cross-cultural immigrant experiences.

But way too many children of immigrants, many of them born in this country, will have to celebrate this Father’s Day apart. And not by choice; their parents have been deported or are in deportation proceedings.

Federal government data shows that from January-June 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported 46,486 undocumented parents who said they have at least one child who is an American citizen. Of course, the number is much higher when we include non-citizen children and teenagers whose parents were deported. Taking into account the fact that the government aims to expel 400,000 undocumented immigrants per year, there is an upward trend in the number of families separated and parentless children.

To call attention to the issue, this Sunday several organizations are asking families who are disappointed with Obama’s aggressive deportation policy to march against Secure Communities-his program of massive removals, which was recently activated in New York City-and Stop and Frisk, the NYPD’s practices that put many immigrant men and women at risk of being deported.

The person who came up with the idea for Father’s Day probably wouldn’t think of a protest march as a celebration. While definitely not the ideal way to celebrate, this march is a must given the hostile undertones surrounding the immigration issue in the United States, and local authorities reluctance to seriously reform stop and frisk.