Tips, Know Your Rights, Toolkits and Educational Information For This Difficult Scenario
By Héctor Sánchez Barba
This is the first piece that I write in this community blog. I hope to create a space that provides the most reliable and comprehensive information for the priorities of our Latino and immigrant community. For this first blog, I am focusing on the issue of deportations given the devastating impact they have on our community and nation as a whole.
As an immigrant, this is a very difficult blog to write. But most importantly, I understand this information can be painful for undocumented immigrants to read. However, it is critical to be prepared and have as much information as possible, always hoping for the best but being prepared for the difficulty deportation represents. The reality is that no one can be fully prepared for deportation. The common recommendation from reliable advocates and organizations is to try to be informed by knowing your rights and having a plan in place for yourself and your family.
In the last decade, the issue of deportation has been devastating for our immigrant communities. The Obama Administration increased deportations drastically, and Trump has relentlessly targeted immigrants by creating a sustained trend of constant attacks against everything related to immigration. Our communities are feeling the impact: targeting parents as they drop their children in school, raiding businesses, churches and hospitals, and the spaces where we live across the country.
In a significant and cruel step, the Trump Administration has also taken steps to destroy programs that give legal status to some specific groups. In 2017, he announced that he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), followed by also ending the Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) programs. The Trump administration is sending a clear message that they are at war with the immigrant community, and they have demonized our culture for political gain.
It is important to note that 97 percent of all people deported are Latinos. All these attacks are increasing the vulnerability of our communities and affecting our well-being in the short and long term. The top countries of origin for deportations are Mexico (53%), El Salvador, Guatemala, China, and Honduras. This unfair system affects everyone in the nation because they have deep roots in this country. 62 percent of immigrants have lived in the United States for at least 10 years and 21 percent for over 20 years.
The United States has an addiction to the labor of undocumented workers, and entire economic sectors of this country depend on their hard work. From agriculture, manufacturing, construction, services, and hospitality, our economy depends on the critical contributions of undocumented workers. We need to keep fighting to make this a better and more inclusive immigration system, but while this happens, we must have the best information available to protect our immigrant communities and families.
This blog hopes to answer some key questions related to deportation. It includes vital information and advice available from the most reputable sources, research studies, non-for profit, and legal organizations. I will update as more information becomes available. However, this content is not formal legal advice and does not substitute legal counsel. It does include information from trusted legal organizations.
Please share this blog with your network or with anyone that may need access to this information. Also, follow my social media, where I will be sharing content for our community: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The ultimate goal is to make this a community blog, and I sincerely thank you for being part of it.
Héctor Sánchez Barba
How the system works
Know Your Rights
- The impact of stress on children and deportation
- Mental Health
- Economic Hardship
- Housing Instability
- Performance in School
- Lack of Access to Major Benefit Programs
- Lack of Access to Health Care
- Lack of Transportation
- How to have a conversation with children about deportation
- How to cope with deportation by helping your children feel safe
The Process of Deportation
What is deportation? Deportation is a complex process that involves the formal removal of a foreign national for violating immigration law. This process can be very confusing, and that’s why it is important to be prepared and know your rights.
According to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, when we are discussing our immigration system, we are describing agencies in the Executive Branch that have different missions such as U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE], Customs and Border Protection [CBP], and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services [USCIS]), U.S. Department of Justice (Executive Office of Immigration Review [EOIR]), and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Office of Refugee Resettlement [ORR]).
Below is an overview of the deportation process:
The Importance of Legal Advice
Legal advice is important and should be given only by state-approved professionals. This blog is a general educational resource and should not be regarded as legal advice. Some of the information may change and may not apply in certain states. Whenever possible, you should seek legal support. Be aware of who is giving you legal advice and always consult trusted organizations. –Source
Know your rights
Under the U.S. Constitution, everyone in this country has basic rights, regardless of your immigration status. There are different scenarios for deportation, and in this blog you will find some recommendations on what to do in different locations. It is recommended to have this information readily available in your home, workplace, your car, and with you at all times in case you are stopped by a deportation officer or if they knock at your door.
When you are stopped by deportation officers
When interacting with deportation officers is very important to understand your rights and know what to do. Here are specific actions recommended for different locations. From your home, workplace, public space, police custody, and immigration detention center.
Watch the following video from ACLU to learn about what to do if you are stopped by an officer.
This document gives you specific recommendations on what to do when interacting with the police or an immigration official:
In the event of a raid, it is crucial to be prepared. Here is a resource piece from reliable organizations that explain what to do if ICE knocks on the door. Please print and have it readily available.
The organization CLINIC also created a good number of guides that describe the different scenarios in detail and what to do in each one of them, please read them carefully:
Under the U.S. Constitution, every individual has protections, including undocumented immigrants. It is vital to have access to information that describes those rights readily available when it is needed. This is a card that describes your rights, give it to the immigration officer if you are stopped or if they knock on your door.
Print this card and carry it with you or have it readily available in different locations like your home, workplace, car or wallet:
What to do after a raid?
The National Immigration Law Center advises that after a raid you must:
Document all the facts, including all actions taken by ICE
Write down names and badge numbers of agents
Make a list of the names and dates of birth of detained immigrants
Obtain contact information for foreign consulates in your area
Obtain contact information of the local ICE detention center
Find out where to obtain contact information for other detention centers in case detained people are transferred out of your local area
For more information about critical services provided by local organizations across the United States, please visit the Informed Immigrant website, they offer good information on a number of issues related to deportations and also specifically related to a raid.
Below are raid preparedness resources:
“This is a checklist for advocates responding to raids and preparing legal resources to prevent a deportation.”
“Hang this poster in your home to remind you and your family of your rights, what to say, and what to document in case of an ICE (immigration) raid. Available in English, Spanish, French, Simplified Mandarin, Traditional Mandarin, Korean, and Tagalog.”
“All immigrants, undocumented and documented, in the U.S. have certain rights under the Constitution. Learn about your rights and how your family can best prepare for an encounter with immigration enforcement.” Video source: Informed Immigrant
What to do if you have children?
The issue of deportations is one that affects entire families and children in particular. According to the Migration Policy Institute “approximately 5.1 million children under age 18 lived with an unauthorized immigrant parent during the 2012-16 period, representing 7 percent of the U.S. child population. About 80 percent (4.1 million) of these children were U.S. citizens, another 16 percent (809,000) were themselves unauthorized, and 3 percent (167,000) were legally present, including LPRs and those with temporary visas.”
It is well documented that when a close family member is deported, children can be impacted emotionally and academically. It can also create an economic disadvantage and health issues. In the United States, children have the right to K-12 education, including college, regardless of citizenship or residency status. Students may not be banned from enrolling in school if their parents are undocumented. In schools, churches, hospitals, religious ceremonies, and public demonstrations, ICE are to refrain from engaging in enforcement actions. source
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) states that schools are not allowed to provide information from a student’s record to federal immigration agents without consent. The U.S. Supreme Court established in Plyler v. Doe that all students have the right to K-12 public education. Any school district, officials, teachers, or administrators who deny access to this right will violate the student’s constitutional right.
Here is an official fact sheet list with information on the rights of all children to enroll in school. In this document you can find info related to proof of residency in the school district, proof of age, social security numbers, and race and ethnicity data.
Proof of Residency in the School District:
- School officials may request proof that you live within the boundaries of the school district. School districts typically accept a variety of documents for this purpose, such as copies of phone and water bills, lease agreements, affidavits, or other documents. A school district’s requirements to establish residency must be applied in the same way for all children.
- A school district may not ask about your or your child’s citizenship or immigration status to establish residency within the district, nor may a school district deny a homeless child (including a homeless child who is undocumented) enrollment because he or she cannot provide the required documents to establish residency.
- While a school district may choose to include a parent’s state-issued identification or driver’s license among the documents that can be used to establish residency, a school district may not require such documentation to establish residency or for other purposes where such a requirement would unlawfully bar a student whose parents are undocumented from enrolling in school.
There are recommended steps that the Immigrant Legal Resource Center has published that can help you be prepared to ensure your children are taken care of in the event of deportation:
- Make a child care plan including emergency numbers, list of important contact information, a Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit, and a file with important documents.
- Find out about your immigration status. If you have a green card, find out if you can become a U.S. citizen. If you are here on a visa, find out if you can get a green card. If you do not have immigration status, find out if you may be eligible to get a green card, visa or work permit. If you have a criminal arrest or conviction, find out how it might affect your situation, or if there is a way to erase it from your record. If you are detained or put into deportation proceedings, ask for a hearing in front of a judge to get out of detention and to fight your deportation.
- Make sure you, your family members (even children), housemates, neighbors, and co-workers, regardless of their immigration status, know of their right to remain silent and all of their other rights if ICE or the police come to your home, neighborhood or workplace.
Additional suggestions from trusted sources:
- Identify local organizations that provide legal immigration support services
- Have all legal documents in one place and tell your family where it is located
- Memorize phone numbers
- Assign someone to take care of your assets
- Start saving money for legal fees/bonds
This is also a good guide that can help you prepare for this difficult situation, It includes recommendations and checklists related to assets and benefits of minor children and a checklist for child custody from Appleseed. You can go directly to the guide for specific information.
15 Things educators, school support staff, and communities can do to help protect undocumented students and their families
Mental Health and Deportations
Deportation can bring a wide variety of issues, including mental health issues for undocumented immigrants, familes and children. According to research from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, the stress endured while in detention centers can produce negative psychological outcomes, depression, PTSD, addiction, and suicidal thoughts. This is why it is so critical to have access to professional information that can help provide the best advice related to mental health issues.
The Impact of Stress on Children and Deportation
Deportations are having a devastating impact on the lives of children, including their mental health. There is a structural problem and barriers to accessing mental health such as fear, culture, poverty, and discrimination. A recent article from the University of Southern California states that from 2009 to 2013 over 5.3 million children in the U.S. had an undocumented parent and 85% (4.24 million) of them were born in the U.S.
The American Psychological Association highlights some of the conditions of what it is like to grow up undocumented in this nation. Below you can watch a video with 3 undocumented youth that arrived to the U.S. as young children. “ Their experiences are emblematic of the struggles of millions of undocumented children and youth in America who deal daily with isolation from peers, the struggle to pursue an education, fears of detention and deportation, and the trauma of separation from family and loved ones. This video calls for valuing the contributions of and caring for all members of our society, even those without documentation.”
According to a Harvard study, child development can be threatened by the stress levels a child is exposed to. There are physiological effects that if the stress level is extreme and long-lasting, it can result in damage and weakened systems and lifelong repercussions.
Some of the effects of living with fear may include:
- Feeling of isolation
- Disrupted eating or sleeping patterns
- Distrust of authority
- Poor concentration
- Difficulty forming relationships
- Behavioral and academic difficulties
Children face many social and health challenges when their parents are deported including mental health, economic hardship, housing instability, performance in school, lack of access to major benefit programs, lack of access to health care, and lack of transportation among others. A research report from the Urban Institute in collaboration with the Migration Policy Institute has published the challenges for children of immigrant families. Here are some of the findings:
There are many issues including mental, physical, and behavioral conditions that can affect children after their parent’s detention or deportation. Children also get depression and their physical health starts deteriorating due to this situation. Some include self-destructive mechanisms or loss of interest in daily activities.
Many undocumented families are living paycheck to paycheck. When they lose an income due to detention and deportation they struggle to make up for loss of income. This study shows that the lack of prior work experience and not having their names on household bills affected their lives and the capacity of affording food for their children. A woman asked in this study says: “People see that I’m worried and ask how I am. I say nothing is the matter. But, we don’t have anything to eat.” The expensive cost of legal fees and bonds is also a deep concern for families.
This issue affects many children because families are often faced with homelessness. Hardship after deportation or detention is a serious issue that affects children’s health, development and social capacity. Many shelters don’t accept families or are over capacity so they are faced with separation.
Performance in School
Children’s performance and behavior is largely influenced by their experiences. This study shows that some students whose parents were detained or deported became disengaged from academics and social relationships with their peers. There is a significant role in the loss of long-term goals like college enrollment and higher drop-out rates due to lack of money for tuition. Many also drop-out because they need to take care of their younger siblings or to enter the workforce to support their families financially.
Lack of Access to Major Benefit Programs
After deportation or detention, the children face immediate need for financial support. There are not always able to receive the public benefits for which they are eligible like major programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Lack of Access to Health Care
Immigrant families across the country have challenges accessing health care. Many are ineligible for Medicaid. Many undocumented families are fearful of applying to public health care due to immigration enforcement. Some states have low cost clinics in underserved areas that provide free public health services but not comprehensive health care.
Lack of Transportation
The availability of public transportation, lack of driver’s licenses, and the fear of being pulled over and apprehended by police is a major barrier to undocumented families to get access to health and social services. This study shows Head Start staff reporting that police were patrolling the areas nearby and immigrants families were fearful of dropping their children at school.
Here are suggestions from trusted sources on how to support your family if you are facing deportation:
- Have conversations with your family about deportation and share feelings about the process.
- Ensure your children understand what will happen in the event of deportation. Where will they live? Who will take care of them? How will they go to school? Where will they call to connect with you?
- If your child is being deported with you, look for strategies to cope with the challenges this new life brings as a new language, school, and friends.
- Learn to recognize signs of stress
- Practice strategies to manage stress
- Share your plans with your family
This is an informative guide to help parents talk to children about deportation. The following 3 sections are extracts and offer very specific and helpful information, to see the full guide click here.
How to Have Conversations with Children About Deportation
- A guiding principal for all conversations is to listen sensitively and thoughtfully to your child’s questions and concerns.
- When having a conversation with your child, it is important to have a quiet space, without interruptions and with enough time, so you don’t feel pressured or rushed. Pick a time when your children are rested, fed and free of distractions. Putting away phones and turning off computers and TVs are a good start. Depending upon the ages of the children, it might be helpful to have all family members present.
- Be prepared. Before beginning a conversation, have a plan in mind for what would happen if your family faced deportation. It is comforting to children to feel that their parents are in control and have a plan to take care of them.
- If your children have questions, it is best to answer simply. Provide enough information to address their concerns, but not too much that they would be overwhelmed. Parents may not have the answers to all questions. It is best to be honest. “I do not know yet but will find out.”
- Having regular family meetings can be helpful so the conversation can continue. Frequent meetings can give your child the opportunity to ask questions over time and to continue to have support from you for their fears.
- Make a stress meter. As a way to gauge your family’s stress, it might be helpful for each member to make a stress meter where green is calm, yellow is slightly stressed and red is very stressed. Older children might prefer a scale of 1‐10. Think of it like a speedometer on a car that goes from soft soothing colors to strong colors or 1‐10. The meter could be hung on the child’s bedroom door or above the bed. Parents can let their child know that they will offer comfort when they see their child is stressed. This will also help parents feel that they are in touch with their children and able to help them feel better.
How to Cope with Deportation by Helping Your Children Feel Safe
Regardless if your plan is for your children to remain in the U.S. or go with you to your native country, the goal is to keep relationships alive. How can we bridge the gaps that physical separation creates? Throughout our lives human beings need to have the continuity of relationships to help us feel secure. Deportation can shatter the physical closeness of a family.
Here are a few strategies that can bring you closer and help your family feel connected if you are deported and your children remain in the U.S.
- Older children should know what the plan for the family’s care will be if you are deported and they remain in the U.S. It is important to tell them the basics. Where will they live? Will they go to the same school? How will they reach their parents? Who will be taking care of them? It is important to maintain a sense of predictability in times of great fear and stress. Having a plan makes your children feel cared for. If you know what will happen and have a plan it reduces stress and makes it less overwhelming.
- Audio messages can be a way for a child to feel that they are not alone by hearing a parent’s voice whenever they need to. The message should be uplifting and soothing. Think of a message that is meant to be comforting when your child or adolescent is distressed. For example, parents can sing a lullaby for a younger child, read a story, tell a joke or give an inspiring message to a teenager.
- Telephone and video conference help parents and children feel connected. If possible, it is important to have regular and frequent times to talk.
- Create a photo book or scrapbook of times shared together.
- Encourage the child to write letters, draw pictures or send photos that the parent receives and then shares with the child on live video showing that they received it. This might be a very tangible way for the child to feel that he or she is reaching parents across the border.
- If finances permit, the children might visit their parents for vacations or summers. Family is the Heart and Soul of Our Lives.
If your child is accompanying you to your country of origin, you will need strategies for helping you and your child cope with the huge transition and loss of life in the U.S. It is possible you will not know the details of where you will be living. However, it is important to convey as much information as you can about your country to your child. It would be helpful to convey even general information about your homeland and culture. In the face of great change and uncertainty people often feel helpless and hopeless. Making as much as you can known and predictable will help adults and children feel calm, safe and secure.
Children, who will be accompanying you, will be leaving behind their home, their school, their friends and their country. They might need to learn a new language. There will be huge changes ahead. Your goal is to help them manage the change and to help them cope with the losses they are suffering. These will be challenging times and it is important to listen with eyes and ears. You can help them with strategies for keeping in touch with their friends in the U.S. Families who are deported often feel stigma. Families and children may have challenges being accepted in their new home by other children and local residents. If your entire family leaves the U.S., the strategies mentioned above for listening and having conversations will help you maintain connections and face challenges together.
Checklist: Talking to Your Children About Deportation
- Learn to recognize signs of stress
- Practice strategies for managing stress
- Be aware of the needs of children of different age groups
- Recognize signs of stress in your children
- Know strategies for helping children reduce stress
- Listen sensitively and thoughtfully to your child’s questions and concerns
- Create a safe space for the conversations to occur
Financial Readiness and Deportation
It is crucial that undocumented immigrants understand financial readiness, particularly in the context of deportations. Here you will find some financial tips on what to do for different scenarios and purposes related to your finances: powers of attorney, bank accounts, credit and debit cards, taking money across the border, pay day and short term loans, uncollected wages, what to do if you have a home, what to do with your business, with your car, and Social Security and Veteran benefits.
Power of Attorney
This is a good checklist for powers of attorney that you can use from Appleseed. This section will provide an overview on how to work around some financial challenges. The checklists created by Appleseed are very informative. It is recommended to consult with an attorney for questions about the process.
- Decide if you will close a bank account(s) or leave them open.
- Provide someone you trust with a specific power of attorney to make those decisions on your behalf or make a joint account.
- Verify if you can access your bank account and services from your country of origin.
- Inquire about fees and how much time you have before the account becomes inactive.
- Before closing the bank account, open one in your country of origin. Ensure all checks and automatic payments are cleared in the account you are closing.
- Transfer any recurring payments to your new account and decide how the money left will be sent to you.
- Gather important information about your credit, debit, and prepaid cards. This includes account number, security codes, expiration date, phone numbers, etc.
- Contact banks to see if you can use them in your country of origin, how can you receive bills or statements outside of the country, and how to cancel credit and debit accounts if you are not in the United States.
- When you leave the United States and take over $10,000 in cash you always need to fill out a form called FinCEN 105. It can be provided to you by a customs officer or online.
- If you are traveling with checks or money orders, it can be safer if they are made out to a specific person or with specifications “for deposit only account number xxxx”.
- Ensure you can cash a money order or check in your country of origin.
- Look for reliable wire transfer company in your country of origin and easy access to an individual you trust in the U.S.
- If you provide your debit card to a trusted individual, verify they have the pin number to the card.
- Make a list of all the important information from your accounts. Keep it in a safe place and possibly give a copy to someone you trust.
- Contact lenders by certified mail and phone and explain the situation and provide a forwarding address. Ask if you are eligible for an “Extended Payment Plan” for your loan.
- If you have established automatic payments, make sure the account being debited is active or has the funds. If not, you think about canceling automatic payments.
- All agreements should be in writing and promptly arranged.
- You have the right to collect all wages from any work you have done and to receive worker’s compensation regardless if you have work authorization or social security.
- Notify your employer if you have changed your address due to deportation or detention.
- Ask the employer to send you the final paycheck to the new address provided.
- If your employer does not pay you your last paycheck, you can complain with the Department of Labor or your state labor office.
- Find a nonprofit organization that can help you navigate this process or talk to your consulate for assistance.
- It is illegal for any employer to retaliate against you for protecting your right to wages.
What to Do If You Own a Home?
If you own a home it is imperative to understand how to navigate the selling or gifting of your property. It is estimated that 34 percent of undocumented immigrants own a home in the United States.
This checklist from Appleseed can help identify what you need to do if you own a home and are faced with deportation.
This home ownership overview from Appleseed will also help you understand the different concepts for the process.
This is a checklist from Appleseed for residential leases that can also help you navigate this process.
What to Do with Your Business?
Having a business is hard work, and you deserve to keep your earned profit or know how to navigate other options. Here are some recommendations from trusted sources https://www.caminofinancial.com/es/que-pasa-con-tu-negocio-si-eres-deportado/
- Consult with an immigration lawyer with experience and a membership to a lawyer’s association in the United States. A great search option is the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
- Make an emergency plan for your business. Establish how you will keep administrating the operations from your country of origin.
- Make an agreement with your business partners, determining how the business will function in the event of deportation. It can be established who will maintain the property and how it will be compensated financially. A lawyer can help you represent your interest in the U.S. and warranty stability in the event you are deported.
- Make plans to transfer the business property to a trusted individual. The transfer can be made through a power of attorney to ensure that the individual can make decisions on your behalf.
- Make plans to transfer the business to another individual with legal status. Always receive an attorney’s guidance on this process.
- Make plans to reduce or sell the business.
Selling your car?
Below is a checklist from Appleseed for when you need to sell your car.
Social Security and Veteran Benefits
This is a checklist from Appleseed for social security and veterans benefits.
Preparation with your country of origin/Consulates and Embassies
Going back to a country you either don’t know well or have not been in a long time is very difficult. Understanding how to access healthcare, getting medications, finding a job, establishing a bank account, currency exchange, and finding a school for your children, it’s a hard process, but here are some tips to be prepared.
- Find organizations from your country of origin that have resources for deportees and their families.
- If you do not have a place to stay in your country of origin, search shelters that would accommodate your family.
- There are government agencies that have programs to re-integrate deportees to the workforce. Some offer language classes and job referrals.
Embassies or consular offices have the ability to grant visas to immigrants and also notify family members if a person is detained. Family members can call the consulate to see if they have been placed in immigration custody. The work of the consulates is to ensure their nationals are protected and have the resources they need. Consulates are required by law to be notified of detainees from that country of origin.
Also, here is a list of all U.S. Embassies.
Immigrant Support Groups
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
- American Federation of Teachers
- America’s Voice
- Californians Together
- Catholic Legal Immigration Network
- Catholic Migration Services
- Dream US
- FWD US
- Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees
- Immigrant Defense Project
- Immigrants Rising
- Immigration Legal Resource Center (ILRC)
- International Refugee Assistance Project
- International Rescue Committee
- Kids in Need of Defense
- Leadership Conference Education Fund
- Mariposas Sin Fronteras
- National Immigration Law Center
- President’s Alliance On Higher Education and Immigration
- Ready California
- United We Dream
- Women’s Refugee Commission
Call to Action
Each one of us has the capacity to do something to make this a better and more inclusive democracy, one that does not exploits and abuses immigrant workers and gives them the possibility of being integrated into the communities to which they contribute so much. We must organize, mobilize, resist, and engage. Here are some suggestions of what we can do collectively:
- We must be emboldened to create a structural change to fight an injustice system that exploits people and deports them. With collective action and work, change is possible.
- There are a lot of actions that we can do in our communities, but the top priority is civic participation.
- We must engage, register to vote, inform yourself and your family on the issues that are important to you and your family. If you are a legal resident, become a citizen to have a stronger political power.
- Participate in the census for our communities to count on resources and more political representation.
- Contact your representatives and elected leaders and tell them that you care and want change.
- Join marches and demonstrations to stand in solidarity with issues related to our generation.
- We need more Latinos to run for office to take on the issues that are affecting our communities.
- Get involved in your local decision process by joining school boards, parent-teacher organizations, and local community efforts.
- Donate to organizations that advocate for immigration to organizations that provide direct services to immigrants, to shelters, and any other entity that directly provides support and services to our communities.