Plan Aims to Better Protect the Children of Detained or Deported Immigrants
On August 23, 2013, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a directive on “Facilitating Parental Interests in the Course of Immigration Enforcement Activities,” otherwise known as the Parental Interest Directive. The directive was issued as a result of the growing number of children holding U.S. citizenship whose parents have been detained or deported. This situation has become an increasing problem due to intensifying immigration enforcement activities in the recent past, with 204,810 removals of parents with U.S. citizen children being issued between July 1, 2010 and September 31, 2012.
When these parents are removed, the children are often left without anyone to care for them, putting children at risk of unnecessarily entering the child welfare system. This is a serious issue, with the Applied Research Center estimating in 2011 that at least 5,100 children with a deported or detained parent are in the foster care system, with 15,000 more U.S. citizen children with undocumented parents being in danger of entering the child welfare system over the next five years. The directive issued by the ICE aims to reverse this trend by ensuring that parents and guardians of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent resident children who are detained or deported are able to make decisions regarding their child’s care, remain in contact with their children, and participate in family court proceedings. The ICE hopes that this directive will help to prevent permanent separations and reduce the number of children of deported parents who are unnecessarily in the foster care system.