Detained or Deported: New Resource for Parents

Children of Immigrants

With no changes to our nation’s broken immigration system, the separations of families have continued. Every day fathers and mothers continue to be deported and separated from their U.S. born children. Recent data from by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported carrying out more than 72,000 deportations last year of parents who said they had U.S.-born children. One asks, what happens to these young children when they are separated from the individuals they love and depend on the most? The outcome is devastating for each and every child. Some have to return with their parents to a country they may know nothing about, and others must stay behind with family members or friends. In some instances these young children enter the U.S. foster care system.

Regardless of their immigration status these parents have rights over the care and safety of their children. Last week, the Women’s Refugee Commission released a new resource for parents who live through the nightmare of deportation. Detained or Deported: What About My Children? is a toolkit for families caught between the immigration and child welfare systems. Parents who are detained and deported struggle to make the difficult decisions regarding the future of their children. The child welfare system is a system that these parents are not familiar with. In many instances dependency and family court processes affect parents ability to reunite with their children, putting families at risk of permanent separation.

This toolkit includes step-by-step instructions to assist parents in protecting and maintaining their parental rights. Information on protecting their parental rights when being detained or deported, making care arrangements for their children and how to properly work with the welfare and family court systems are provided. The toolkit also provides contact information for state child welfare agencies in all 50 states, links to state-specific handbooks for parents with children in the child welfare system and guides for lawyers who may assist these parents in the family court system.

This bilingual toolkit comes at a critical time as our Administration is faced with the opportunity to expand deportation relief to undocumented parents of U.S. citizen children. The resource is now available in the law libraries of all detention centers housing adults for more than 72 hours. Community organizations and social services providers around the United States have access to it as well.