Over the past five years the number of immigrant youth left alone in the U.S. has tripled, statistics show. Amid President Obama’s record numbers of deportations, many youth–both documented and undocumented–are left alone in the U.S. when their parents are detained or deported. CNN interviewed the Cabrera family, in a tragic story of three undocumented immigrant children who became orphans when their only surviving parent was killed in a car accident. The oldest, Brianda Cabrera, was 14 when her mother died and has been caring for her siblings in Springs, Ga. for the past nine years.
They are among the thousands of youth in the U.S. here without their parents. According to CNN:
Last year, the U.S. Border Patrol took more than 24,481 into custody, compared with 8,041 in 2008. The vast majority in 2012 came from Mexico (13,974), but some came from places as far away as India (23), China (16) and Romania (16).
But an immigration attorney interviewed cautions that this number only reflects those detained at the border, not families like the Cabreras. Their story mirrors that of Juan Gomez, a DREAMer who grew up in Miami and was forced to take care of himself and his brother after his parents returned to Colombia for fear of being deported. Sometimes these same separations force the U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants into foster care. And a report from Human Impact Partners indicates that undocumented youth experience heightened mental and physical health conditions because of the stress of family detentions and deportations. Recently, many young immigrant activists have turned their attention away from advocating for comprehensive immigration reform towards demanding an end to ballooning numbers of deportations.