Recent developments in immigration law have certainly caused a great deal of fear and worry among immigrant families. Fear can either propel to action or can immobilize and paralyze. In recent articles, it has been our goal to offer words of hope. Having correct information and knowledge should empower, and prepare those who are uncertain about their future in the United States.
In addition to knowing your basic rights, carrying your important documents, and having preparedness or safety plans in place, families with mixed immigration status should consider making arrangements for their children and loves ones, in case the harsh threat of being torn apart becomes reality. To that end, undocumented parents status need to communicate with their children and other family members about the possibility of removal and their wishes and goals as to what should happen to children and other dependants. Keeping your family in the dark about immigration status is sadly no longer an option.
It is recommended that undocumented parents decide, as difficult as it may be who should care for their children in the event they are unable to do so. This may include designating informal caregivers or legal guardians. Informal caregivers and legal guardians have different rights under the law. For example, informal caregivers may assume physical custody of children, but they have limited powers to make important decisions. Legal guardians, on the other hand, are appointed through courts and they have the ability to act on children’s behalf and make legal decisions. Power of attorney forms do not transfer any custody rights and are not helpful when undocumented parents are detained or removed.
While embarking on this process can be difficult and emotionally taxing, it is important that undocumented parents take steps to prepare for every possibility. The safety and well-being of children should be paramount here. This is why we recommend that undocumented parents make good and informed decisions and put action plans in motion with the assistance of reputable immigration and family attorneys. Help is available so please do not lose hope, after all, you may be entitled to immigration benefits and relief that you are presently unaware of.
ABOUT THIS AUTHOR
Kelly S. O’Reilly
Kelly O’Reilly is a founding partner with Wilner & O’Reilly, APLC, and is a former District Adjudications Officer for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in Los Angeles and Orange County. As an officer, Mr. O’Reilly was given the responsibility for adjudicating Employment-based and Family-based applications for Lawful Permanent Residency, Requests for Travel, Work Authorization, and Waivers of Inadmissibility. He was also responsible for conducting Marriage Fraud Interviews and requests for Naturalization.
Agnieszka (Aggie) Dolinska
Aggie Dolinska is an Associate Attorney with Wilner & O’Reilly, APLC, and heads the firm’s removal defense practice group. She is Board Certified as a specialist in immigration and nationality law by the State Bar of California’s Bureau of Legal Specialization. Ms. Dolinska’s immigration practice involves all areas of Immigration and Nationality Law, including family and employment-based immigration, non-immigrant visas, removal defense, litigation, and asylum law. Ms. Dolinska is currently the head of the litigation and deportation department in our office. Her removal defense practice includes representing clients in proceedings before the Immigration Court and on appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.