By MICHAEL FALCONE
WASHINGTON — Of nearly 2.2 million immigrants deported in the decade ended 2007, more than 100,000 were the parents of children who, having been born in the United States, were American citizens, according to a report issued Friday by the Department of Homeland Security.
But the department lacks data that might have addressed questions left unanswered by the report, like the number of American children who were left behind in the United States or, alternatively, exited the country with their deported parents. Nor could the report say in how many instances both parents of such children were deported.
Similarly, said Representative José E. Serrano, Democrat of New York, since no one knows how many children a given deportee had, the number of affected children could be much higher than 108,434, the exact number of deported parents of American citizens.
So “the problem goes deeper than just the numbers you see,” said Mr. Serrano, who requested the study. He called the circumstance “tragic.”
“If they took their children back,” he said of the deportees, “then technically we deported an American citizen. No matter which side of the immigration issue you fall on, there’s something wrong with the notion of kicking American citizens out of their own country.”
The Homeland Security Department’s office of inspector general, which conducted the review, said it had ordered a look at the feasibility of tracking down more data about the deportations.
Mr. Serrano, who represents a heavily Hispanic district in the Bronx, is vice chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees spending on the department. He has introduced legislation that would allow immigration judges to take family status into account when deciding on deportations.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a policy institute in Washington that supports tighter controls on immigration, said immigrant parents of children born here should not receive special treatment.“Should those parents get off the hook just because their kids are put in a difficult position?” Mr. Krikorian said. “Children often suffer because of the mistakes of their parents.”