Navarrette: Suffer the children
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

WASHINGTON •Family reunification: A long-standing principle of U.S. immigration policy.

Family separation: The unforgivable result of the Obama administration's unprincipled deportation policy.

How bad can it get when an administration boosts the number of deportations to score political points with voters who are anxious about illegal immigration, in large part because they're worried about unsecure borders and changing demographics?

Real bad. A new report by the Applied Research Center found that, from January to June of this year, the Obama administration deported more than 46,000 parents with U.S.-born children. According to the ARC, which filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act to get the statistics from the Department of Homeland Security, that figure represents more than 22 percent of all people deported in the first half of 2011.

This is a dramatic departure from how things were done under the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Between 1998 and 2007, the last period for which similar statistics are available, only about 8 percent of those deported were the parents of U.S.-citizen children.

In fact, the ARC report concluded, if the rate of "parental deportations" continues through next year, we will get to a point where the Obama administration will have removed — in raw numbers — about as many parents with U.S.-born children in two years as were removed in the previous 10.

This tells us at least two things: The claim from Republican know-nothings that U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants have this magical power to "anchor" their parents in the United States is a complete canard; and the Obama administration couldn't care less that thousands of families are being separated, perhaps forever, because of its heartless deportation policies.

Now, here's the really bad news. Once mom or dad — or, in some cases, both mom and dad — has been nabbed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where do you suppose many of these kids wind up?

According to the ARC, in the first half of this year, at least 5,100 U.S.-born children have been dumped into the foster care system after their parents were detained or deported.

Imagine what those kids go through. And what crime did they commit? Not a single one.

These foster kids are the collateral damage of Barack Obama's unrelenting effort to convince voters that he is sufficiently tough on illegal immigration. That's what has driven all of this — the more than 1.2 million deportations overall since Obama took office, the disregard for extenuating circumstances such as the fact that some of the people who are being removed might have U.S.-born children, etc.

A lot of this is politics. But for the families that have been destroyed, it's all about pain. And sorrow.

Try explaining that to Cecilia Munoz. A former vice president of the National Council of La Raza, Munoz is now the director of intergovernmental affairs for the White House. Although you might have thought that she was really the head of ICE, given that the former immigrant rights activist is cynically being put forth to defend — in both English- and Spanish-language media — the administration's immigration policies. Either by design or by accident, she has morphed into the administration's chief apologist.

Here we go again. Just as many Republicans seem to think that supporting Florida Sen. Marco Rubio somehow makes them look less racist toward Hispanics, so too must the Obama administration think that having a daughter of Bolivian immigrants defend its immigration record somehow makes it look less hostile to immigrants. Both are mistaken.

When asked on a recent episode of PBS' "Frontline" about the fact that thousands of families have been broken apart due to the policies of this administration, Munoz coldly gave the company line.

"At the end of the day," she told PBS correspondent Maria Hinojosa, "when you have immigration law that's broken and you have a community of 10 million, 11 million people living and working in the United States illegally, some of these things are going to happen. Even if the law is executed with perfection, there will be parents separated from their children. It is a result of having a broken system of laws."

What a disgraceful answer. The immigration "system" has been broken for a long time. Yet this bureaucratic body count is piling up on Obama's watch, and at his direction. And Munoz wants us to believe there is nothing the president can do about it.

Are you sure she doesn't work for ICE? She seems to have it in her veins.