Cesia Soza, 17, and her brother, Ronald Jr., 14, came home from school one day in September in Pompano Beach, Florida, to find their father missing. While in class earlier that day, they had been in the dark about what was happening to their father,
After having dropped Cesia and Ronald Jr. off at school, their father, Ronald Soza, returned home to find U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on the family’s doorstep. An undocumented immigrant from Nicaragua, Soza was taken to a detention center.
He was deported to Nicargua to join his wife and the children’s mother, Marisela, who had been taken away and deported by ICE five years earlier.
Their parents gone, Cesia and Ronald Jr. face a frightening future. They’re not alone. The Soza siblings represent America’s young legal residents who are at risk for long-term emotional trauma because of a system that doesn’t deal with the situation. About 5,100 U.S. children in 22 states have lost parents to deportation, according to the Applied Research Center. Some 15,000 more face similar threat in the next five years. On average, 17 children are placed in state care each day as a result of the detention and removal of immigrant parents, according to ICE.
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