Many illegal immigrants in places like the Georgia carpet-mill town of Calhoun are taking special precautions in case they are jailed or deported. They are drawing up legal instructions designating someone to take care of their children.
At the urging of activists, parents are authorizing, in writing, a friend, neighbor or relative to watch their children until they can be reunited either here or in their home countries. During workplace roundups of illegal immigrants, youngsters sometimes become separated from their parents and are taken into government custody. In some cases, they can be held for days or weeks before they are reunited with their parents on one side of the border or the other.
Under U.S. law, children born in this country are American citizens and cannot be deported. There are more than three million such children in the U.S. There are also an estimated 1.8 million children in the country illegally.
Parents of children both legal and illegal are filling out the papers, specifying such things as whether they want their U.S. born children to stay here or to be sent back to the country where the parent might be deported. Fear is particularly strong in Georgia, where many young mothers work in the fields, carpet mills and produce-packing houses.
One of the nation’s strictest immigration-control laws, passed last year, will go into effect July 1st.