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Children, citizen and noncitizen alike, need immigration reform that addresses the full range of challenges they face. Reform that works for kids must include a path to citizenship that ends children’s fear of a parent’s deportation, as well as a strong DREAM Act. It must include systemic improvements that avoid unnecessary foster care placements and reforms — as basic as making a phone call to arrange child care — that would help kids affected by immigration enforcement stay with their family. And it must offer improved protections for unaccompanied children who arrive in the United States without a parent to care for them, as well as policy changes that would give kids the same standing as adults in waiver cases based on hardship to a family member.
The Senate bill delivers on all of these fronts and more. The House may well, to quote Speaker John A. Boehner, “work its will” in a different way, and that way may also deliver what children need.
Lacking the will to do the work now, while the opportunity is before the House, is unacceptable. Reform is an urgent priority for kids, because every day we delay means more denials, more deportations, more foster care placements and more families torn apart.
We urge members of both parties in the House to commit to finishing the job. Confront the tragedies children experience every day under current law, and contribute to a debate that has the potential to reflect our nation’s family values and advance our national interest in the success of every child.
Wendy Cervantes is the director of the First Focus Center for the Children of Immigrants.