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What Happens to Children Who are U.S. Citizens When Their Parents are Deported?

We recently wrote about undocumented immigrants with U.S. born children making arrangements for others to care for their children in case the parents are deported. Many parents take steps to legally give power of attorney over their children to U.S. citizens or other immigrants who are in the country legally. Unfortunately, this is not a choice that is available to all parents, either because they have no one to turn to who is willing to care for their children, or because they are deported before they can make plans.

When undocumented parents of underaged children are deported without notice, the most likely outcome is that the children end up in foster care. The parents often cannot challenge the placement of the children in foster care because the parents are in detention or already deported. When the parents are deported, there is no requirement for their children to be deported along with them because the children are U.S. citizens. The children are taken into the state’s foster care system, and in some cases, eventually put up for adoption after parental rights are terminated.

The termination of parental rights does not have to be voluntary, and in some cases, if the court finds that a parent has abandoned the children, even when the parent is absent against his or her own will, parental rights can be terminated. The criteria for what makes someone an unfit parent is not always clear, and it is easy for a parent’s illegal immigration status to be used as an excuse to terminate parental rights.

Deported parents can fight for their children from their home countries after deportation, but that is often a difficult situation. They also may not be able to see their children and may be restricted in other forms of communication.

In some rare situations, it is possible for parents who are primary caregivers to their children to avoid being deported on humanitarian grounds. However, if the children have another parent in the U.S. who is not subject to deportation, the undocumented parent is likely to be deported even if he or she is the primary caregiver.

Fortunately, in most states, a sibling can take on the role of guardian to younger siblings if his or her parents are deported. This can be the best way to ensure that the children stay together and they can be eventually reunited with their parents.

Undocumented immigrants who are married to U.S. citizens or who have children who are over the age of 21 years old who are U.S. citizens should explore the legal options available to them to change their status. The process may often be expensive and may require the undocumented immigrant to return to his or her home country for a period of time.

In the past, not every undocumented immigrant who had an avenue to apply for legal status did so because of the expense and the lengthy process. However, under changing immigration policies, it is best for undocumented immigrants to take advantage of any legal option that can lead to legal status, instead of waiting for immigration officials to come knocking.

Contact us for Legal Assistance

If you are an undocumented immigrant who may be eligible for legal permanent residence or naturalization through a family member sponsoring your application, contact us for more information about eligibility and the application process. Contact our multi-lingual staff to speak to an experienced immigration attorney from Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei, LLP, in Pasadena, California.

Making a Plan for Your Children in Case You are Deported

When you are an undocumented immigrant living in the United States, you may live in constant fear of deportation and wonder what will happen to your family if you are separated. This fear can be increased if you have minor children and you are the only parent they have to take care of them. While you cannot predict when you will be deported, you can come up with a plan to give you more control over what happens to your children if you are deported.

In California, the parents of a minor child can grant another person the power of attorney over that child by completing a Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit. This person can be named as the child’s caregiver and be allowed to make legal decisions on behalf of the child. After filing paperwork with a court, the caregiver can enroll the child in school as well as make medical decisions for the child.

This arrangement is not adoption, and the parent does not give up parental rights to the child. If you have someone you trust who is legally in the country and who would be willing to care for your children if you were deported, you should talk to them and decide how they would care for your child.

If you sign a power of attorney or a Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit granting rights to make decisions for your child to another person, you can cancel it at any time. You also do not have to make the power of attorney immediate, you can have your lawyer write the documents in such a way that it becomes effective if you are deported or if something else happens to you, and you are unable to take care of your children.

You can choose to arrange for your children to join you in your home country once you are deported, but if you want them to remain in the United States, and your children are U.S. citizens or otherwise legally in the country, you may have to make more permanent arrangements for their custody. You can discuss your options with an attorney in order to make the best choice for your family.

Keep in mind that a power of attorney can give the person you grant it to a wide range of authority. You can give the person the right to sell your house, business, and take care of your other financial matters to wrap up your affairs in the United States if you do not anticipate returning after some time. You can also give a different person the power of attorney over your financial matters than the one who will care for your children. You may want to make sure they can work together so that your children have everything they will need in terms of food, clothing, shelter, and other basic needs in your absence.

Contact Us for Legal Assistance

For more information on how you can put together a plan to take care of your children in case you are deported, contact our multi-lingual staff to speak to an experienced immigration attorney from Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei, LLP, in Pasadena, California.