Children Of Fear: Exploring What Happens To A Child After A Parent Is Deported



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The recent tightening of policies on immigration by the United States government has resulted in many painful family separations.

Recent regulations have attempted to reduce the need to take children away from their parents when the entire family unit is trying to cross the border. However, when a family is living in the U.S. and a parent gets deported, many questions arise about the remaining family members who are still here.

Here is some basic information about what happens to a child after a parent is deported.

1. If the Child is Not a Citizen

If a parent gets deported and their child is not a United States citizen, the child may be in the same situation as the parent. They may themselves be subject to deportation proceedings.

If the minor came to the country years ago, they probably grew up speaking English, attending American schools, and feeling like an American. Many of these kids were eligible for the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. However, the current state of this program is uncertain and caught up in a political struggle.

If a minor has already been accepted into the DACA program, they may be able to renew their application. However, right now DACA is not taking new applicants.

A non-citizen child whose parent has been deported might also apply for asylum or a green card based on a close family relationship with a U.S. citizen.

2. If The Child is a Citizen

The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution grants citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States. If a child of immigrant parents is born here, they are an American citizen. However, there have been some signs that the current administration wants to change this.

However, the citizenship of the child will not prevent the parents from getting deported. A child whose parents get deported may be placed into foster care if there are no suitable family members who are legal residents and who can take care of the child. Sometimes children placed with foster families end up being legally adopted, without the agreement of the biological parents.

3. If There are Family Members in the U.S.

If there are family members of the child who live legally in the country, the child may be placed with them. However, the burden is on the family to find these family members and transport the child safely into their custody.

If you suspect that you may be a target of ICE and you fear for your child’s well being in case you get deported, you can take steps to protect them. There are ways to ensure that they remain with the family and avoid the foster care system.

Take advantage of immigration bail bonds in order to get out of detention pending your hearing. Then make arrangements for your child’s custody or guardianship by working with an immigration attorney

If the child’s other parent or other close relatives are geographically close, agreeable, and appropriate to undertake full-time care, you can transfer legal custody to them. You can create a written agreement to assign your physical and legal custody rights to another trusted adult. This gives the new custodian the right to care for your child and to make decisions about their health, education, and welfare.

If the child’s other parent agrees—or if you are the only legal parent—you and the custodian may still have to attend a hearing. There a judge will determine whether granting custody is in the child’s best interests.

You can also create documents like a health care directive. This will give you the right to participate in healthcare decisions relating to your child, even if you are not present in the country.

4. Psychological Impact

The psychological impact on children whose parents get deported can be immense, depending on the circumstances.

Studies show that children who experience the sudden and forcible deportation of a parent exhibit increased crying, anxiety, anger, aggression, withdrawal, and fear. They feel abandoned, isolated, fearful, traumatized, and depressed.

Kids who were present at the moment a parent was detained show even greater emotional, cognitive, and behavioral effects. They often express deep shame at their family’s predicament.

These kids often have little access to mental health professionals to assist with this trauma. They also develop a mistrust of institutions of authority like hospitals and doctors. This prevents them from obtaining the healthcare they need.

This mistrust extends to schools, affecting their academic performance and chances for employment.

Families experiencing these separations report feeling hopeless and anxious. This affects their ability to eat and sleep properly, exposing all members of the family to greater health risks.

5. Sociological and Financial Consequences

The impact of a parent’s deportation affects the individual child, the extended family, and the culture as a whole. Latinx communities have been especially hard hit due to ICE’s emphasis on individuals from countries like Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala,

These families develop a strong mistrust of local law enforcement, impacting the safety of local communities. They become afraid to call the police, even if they have been victims of a crime. This lets criminal activity increase, unchecked.

These populations tend to avoid school administrators and hospitals out of fear of ICE. This is a detriment to community health, in addition to the local school systems. Children are less likely to attend school or seek academic support. This contributes to lower graduation rates, employability, and hopes for college.

What Happens to a Child After a Parent is Deported? Don’t Wait to Set up Your Own Safety Net

If you are wondering “What happens to a child after a parent is deported?”, do not wait until it is too late to ensure the safety and well being of your son, daughter, or loved one. If you have time while out on bond, make legal arrangements so that your little ones can stay with people with whom they are familiar and who they love.

For more on dealing with immigration issues, keep checking back here.

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