With immigration arrests and deportations in Arizona and throughout the country on the rise, the number of children who remain in the United States after their parents are deported is also rising. Of children whose grandparents or other family members are raising them, 20 percent are in immigrant households.
Some states have taken steps to help parents appoint guardians in case they are deported. Usually, these guardianships are set up so they only take effect if what is called a “triggering event” related to immigration occurs. For example, a law was passed in Maryland that allows parents to set this up without relinquishing their parental rights. New Jersey and Pennsylvania have introduced similar laws. In New York, if parents are taken into custody on immigration-related charges, they can appoint a guardian. Legal guardians in the state can also appoint a standby guardian. All of these measures allow parents to ensure their children will be cared for without losing their rights.
Parents who have come from Sudan, Haiti, Nicaragua and El Salvador on Temporary Protected Status may be among those who are concerned about their children. While President Trump moved to end TPS for people from these countries, a temporary stay has been issued. Some of these parents have had children who are citizens who may be eligible to remain even if they must leave.
Child custody cases may become complicated if parents are unable to care for children. This could be because of immigration issues or because one or both parents have been incarcerated or have lost custody of their children for other reasons. When this happens, family members may wish to step in and become the children’s guardian so they do not go into the foster system. An attorney may be able to assist a person in getting guardianship in these situations.