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Thousands of Children Around the Country to Write Letters Calling on Congress to stop deportations

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As many families prepare to gather for the Thanksgiving holiday, children around the country are raising their voices against U.S. immigration policies that are tearing families apart.  As part of a campaign called A Wish for the Holidays, they are writing and drawing letters to members of Congress to express one, shared wish: stop deportations and keep families and communities together.

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The campaign will highlight the impact of U.S. immigration policies on children and families, and in early December, a children’s delegation will hand deliver over 10,000 young people’s letters to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. 19-year-old Eliza Morales lives in Los Angeles, California, and is writing a letter to Congress to explain the impact that her mother’s deportation has had on her life.  When she was fourteen, Eliza’s mother was deported to Mexico.  Eliza says, “It was really difficult to deal with because I didn’t know if she was okay or where she has headed.  I felt like she had abandoned me.  U.S. immigration policies are driving families apart, little by little.

I want people to hear me, to hear us.”  In addition to writing her own letter, Eliza is coordinating the participation of children at a local middle school because “all children can understand that it’s not right to separate families, and that it’s a problem that needs to be fixed.  I wouldn’t want anyone to go through the pain I felt.”

According to a report released in 2011 by the Applied Research Center, an estimated 5.5 million children in the United States have one or more parents who are undocumented immigrants.  These children live in fear that their families will be torn apart as a result of detentions and deportations.  In the first six months of 2011 alone, over 46,000 parents of U.S. citizen children were deported, a dramatic increase over previous periods. In general, children experience severe psychological trauma when separated from their primary caregivers.

Children whose families have been separated as a result of deportation and immigrant detentions often face financial hardship, emotional and behavioral problems, deep declines in educational performance, and negative health outcomes. All children are invited to participate in A Wish for the Holidays by writing letters to Congress about the importance of family.  Youth, parents, teachers and youth facilitators can get involved by visiting www.WeBelongTogether.org/wish. The website includes age-appropriate activity guides and background information for adult facilitators.

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