Gloria Gonzalez-Garcia's family was torn in two Dec. 2.
Her husband, Jose Alfredo Garcia, was arrested by Mineral Wells police, and his status as an illegal immigrant quickly got him a one-way ticket to Mexico. He was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and deported the next day.
It didn’t matter that he had been paying taxes, buying a house or taking care of his daughters, who are American citizens because they were born in the U.S.
"The little ones don't understand, and they don't know what happened. They don't know why their dad has to be in Mexico," Gonzalez-Garcia said at her Fort Worth home.
Garcia's abrupt deportation is an example of how tens of thousands of parents are separated from their children when immigration law catches up with them.
A report released this month by the Homeland Security Department's Office of Inspector General found that more than 108,000 parents of U.S.-born children were deported between 1998 and 2007.
U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., asked for the study and is using its findings to push his bill, the Child Citizen Protection Act, which would allow immigration judges to use discretion and halt the deportation of a parent of a child who is a U.S. citizen.
Serrano said that parents often have no choice but to take their U.S.-born children with them when they are deported.
"By virtue of this action we have, in fact, deported or forced out of the country American citizens," he said.
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