*Practice limited to federal immigration law. Licensed in NY, MA, but not in CA.

What Happens to the Children of Immigrants When Their Parents are Deported?

In the Trump Administration’s era of harsh immigration rhetoric and increased enforcement action, more attention must be paid to how deportation and removal can affect children. Many American children have undocumented parents. Indeed, the Pew Research Center estimates that one in every 12 children born in the United States has at least one undocumented parent. There are also hundreds of thousands more children in the U.S. who are themselves undocumented.

In all, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) estimates that there are five million children living in the U.S. with an undocumented parent; approximately four million of those children are U.S. citizens while the other one million are undocumented. Here, our immigration law team discusses the basic circumstances young children face when their parents are taken into ICE custody.

Children are Often Left in a Difficult Position

To put it bluntly, the current United States immigration enforcement policy does not take nearly enough care when handling children. Parents can be detained with little warning, sometimes leaving friends and other family members scrambling, trying to make arrangements for very young children. Many immigrant advocacy groups are now recommending that the best thing vulnerable parents can do is to make pre-arrangements to ensure protection for their children in case something goes wrong and they are picked up in an ICE raid, detained or deported.

Indeed, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) has started helping undocumented immigrant parents fill out the required legal paperwork to give another party (a friend or a relative) temporary guardianship rights over their child. Essentially, this type of guardianship only becomes active if emergency circumstances, such as sudden immigration detainment, arises. Ultimately, in our current immigration enforcement climate, undocumented parents need to ensure that appropriate emergency arrangements are in place. Otherwise, their children could be placed at the whims of the government. When this happens, parents may lose considerable control over their children if no other guardian is available to step in.

This is a Long-Standing Problem

Though there is an increased uneasiness in immigrant communities in the early months of the Trump Administration, ICE taking parents into custody and deporting them with little or no warning has been a long-standing problem. Indeed, beyond the tremendous social disruption that comes with forcibly separating young children (who are often U.S. citizens) from their parents, many of these children lack any sort of network to fall back on. This results in thousands of immigrant children per year ending up in the American foster care system. The climate of fear, over-criminalization of immigrants and the failures of the child welfare system has caused enormous pain for many communities.

Do You Have Questions About Immigration and Parental Rights?

We can help. At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we are proud to support immigrant families in Southern California. To schedule an initial consultation with our experienced immigration lawyer in Los Angeles today about immigration solutions or immigration help, please call us at 213-262-2000 or contact us directly through our website.

Josh Goldstein
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