PARSIPPANY, N.J., June 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- As immigration and visa policies tighten across the United States, undocumented immigrant families are facing heartbreaking decisions as they prepare for a worst-case scenario of deportation. In New Jersey, it is estimated that nine percent of the state's total child population — approximately 168,000 children — have parents who are undocumented immigrants. If the event undocumented parents are deported, what happens to minor children who are natural born U.S. citizens?
In a feature article published recently in the New Jersey Law Journal, attorney Bari Weinberger, New Jersey family law expert and founder of Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group, examined legal options and key steps undocumented parents can take to protect and provide for their U.S. citizen children in their absence.
"In case of deportation, most parents want to keep their families intact and return together to the parents' home country. But the tragic reality is that staying together is not always feasible…there is often political unrest, violence, or economic depression in the home country that makes it difficult for parents to find work and support their families," Weinberger explains.
A child's U.S. citizenship may also present difficulties. "U.S. citizen children may not be eligible for services in their parents' home country, including schooling and health care. In these situations, parents may decide that entrusting their kids to a caregiver in the U.S. is in their best interest," notes Weinberger.
Undocumented immigrants may feel like the law is not on their side. But when it comes to deciding issues that affect their children, parents — documented or not — have rights and options. For undocumented parents who are planning to leave their children in the U.S. should they be deported, Weinberger offers the following action steps for keeping kids safe:
Execute a Power of Attorney. Immigrant parents who want their U.S. citizen children to remain in U.S. can execute a Power of Attorney (POA) that appoints a temporary caregiver for children whose parents are deported or detained. A POA can include directives such as instructions and provisions for how and when children are to travel to reunite with the parent (if planned). In New Jersey, a POA can appoint a temporary caregiver for a maximum of six months. Parents can work with an attorney to establish a POA.
Make Financial Provisions. If parents have the ability to leave funds behind for their children's care, or plan to send funds back to the United States, an easy method of providing a custodian with access to funds for children's expenses is to set up a Union Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) bank account. International deposits may be made to a UTMA.
Plan for the Long Term. If there is little chance that undocumented parents will be able to re-enter the U.S. following deportation, an attorney can help parents create a third-party custody agreement with the child's custodian caregiver. This is more permanent than a POA. Another option is Kinship Legal Guardianship (KLG) in which most parental rights transfer to a family member caregiver, while parents still retain some critical rights, such as the right to visitation.
Whatever choices undocumented parents ultimately make about their family's future, the key is to act now to make provisions for children.
As Weinberger advises, "In today's tense immigration climate, you don't want to leave anything to chance. Once a deportation order is served, your choices become severely limited…so line up that possible caregiver now. Meet with an attorney to get the POA now. Start the bank account now. Take every opportunity you can to secure your family's future."
Weinberger also encourages undocumented immigrant parents to seek legal advice or take advantage of free resources, such as the POA template available from Rutgers University School of Law's Child Advocacy Clinic. To speak with a family law attorney for free about POA and child-related immigration issues, Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group offers initial consultations at no cost.
Bari Z. Weinberger
+1 888 888 0919
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SOURCE Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group