Sunday, April 19, 2009

We Are Families

"I need to find a job, but who will take care of our daughter?
I don't want her to grow up without her father.
Who can I call?"

AFSC's national immigrant and refugee rights network has responded to the widespread sense of increased fear and tension brought about by raids, detentions and deportations. From the east coast to the west coast, multi-status immigrant families face daily tasks that were once simple and daily rituals. Now, however, life has become a daily obstacle course. A recent call to AFSC's Philadelphia office is a case in point.

The first call was a voice mail message in which the caller sought assistance with an immigration matter. Hours before, her husband had telephoned from Florence, Arizona. He had been detained by Immigration Control and Enforcement and was now in a jail cell, waiting to appear before an immigration judge. AFSC staff returned her call and held a lengthy conversation with the caller.

The caller expressed concern for her husband's health. "He has high blood pressure and I'm worried that he doesn't have his medicine. I live in Utah and we have a four month old daughter. What am I going to do?" As a legal permanent resident of the United States, she had filed for citizenship and was waiting to be called for an interview. "I need to find a job but who will take care of our daughter? I don't want her to grow up without her father. Please, who can I call?" she cried. AFSC staff gathered information from the caller and proceeded to contact the Florence detention center.

Over the past year AFSC has experienced a steady increase in telephone calls and walk-ins from community members for information, resources, legal referral or assistance. AFSC has provided trainings on basic rights, worked with community delegations to visit legislators, and urged for ICE to show restraint and case-by-case humanitarian discretion. Additional partnerships have been forged with non-immigrant allies, and faith-based organizations while jointly held public actions urge for an end to raids, detentions and the persecution of undocumented immigrants.

There are approximately 12 million undocumented people residing in the United States. Of that number, eight to ten million are workers laboring in a variety of industries and services vital to the U.S. economy and to the survival of families both in the United States and in their countries of origin. AFSC's report on humane immigration policy calls on President Obama and members of the 111th Congress to develop a clear path to permanent residence and constructive rather than punitive policy solutions.

To join AFSC in its effort for fair and humane immigration policy, or to read specific recommendations visit