Over two million people have been deported in the past five years -- more than ever before. American families are either permanently separated or U.S. citizens are forced to move to foreign countries in order to keep their families together.
U.S. immigration law changed in 1996 in two major ways. It made deportation mandatory for every noncitizen -- including legal permanent residents -- convicted of certain crimes, including misdemeanors, nonviolent, and juvenile offenses. Judges have no discretion to allow the person to stay in the country, even if she has lived in the U.S. since she was a child, has American children, and committed just one offense. These laws also changed in 1996 to make these deportations permanent -- a legal permanent resident deported under this law can never return to the United States.
Our goal is to shine light on the consequences of this policy. As Soros Justice Media Fellows, we are reporting on the consequences of mass deportation from the United States this year. This website features links to stories we have published or produced, access to reports with additional information, and a growing collection of people's individual stories.
Meet Lolo. He's a nine year old American citizen who attended elementary school in Long Beach, California until last November, when he moved to Mexico. Lolo didn't have to move. He chose to, leaving his mother and sister behind, along with the American comforts he grew up with: cable TV, new shoes, an i-pod. The reason was simple: he didn't want to lose his father. Growing numbers of children like Lolo are forced to choose between living apart from their parents or moving to foreign countries due to their parent's deportation. Our coverage of Lolo's Story will appeared on Univision's Aqui y Ahora show and in Symbolia, an innovative new tablet magazine.
Lolo's sister Gaby now lives in California with her mother. During a recent trip to Mexico, Gaby explained what it is like to have her family torn apart by deportation. Click play above to hear Gaby explain how deportation has affected her life.
"I had a dream once that I was in bed sleeping, and then someone at the door shouted he wanted it open. So my mom opened the door. Then she just started crying and then I woke up and then my dad just came into the room and say, ‘I’m here. I’m home.’ And then I woke up and I was crying. ‘Cause that’s one of my dreams, for him to go home and for us to have a normal life, like we used to have."
On December 12, dozens of children visited members of Congress to deliver nearly 10,000 letters written by young people from 26 different states. Their message is clear: "Stop deportations so that all of our families can stay together."
Life After Deportation's reporting team explores the stories of people left behind by Obama's alternative to the Dream Act, including many who grew up in the United States.
If you or your family has been affected by deportation, please share your story so we can show the world how deportation is affecting you. Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story.