There is also the question of what would happen to the families’ assets and possessions if the parents were deported without the opportunity to sell, transfer, or reassign them. Would the government seize their homes, cars, and bank accounts? How will the U.S. children have access to these assets!?
Many undocumented immigrants, are so scared that they are paralyzed, and avoid the topic altogether. Yet, there is an estimated 3.7 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. with American-born kids, and the increase in arrests must serve as a reminder to immigrants nationwide that they must plan for the possibility of temporary and long-term separation from their children. Legal documents and agreements can be drafted to bring some peace of mind to the parents, and guidance to those who will be assisting them if they were to be detained by the immigration authorities.
Below are two ways these agreements can be formalized:
1. Power of attorney, a private agreement between parents and caregiver, which gives temporary custody to the nominated caregiver. It can be terminated or renewed by the parent if necessary. A power of attorney could also be drafted to allow a designated person to sell or rent real estate, sell other property, and manage or close a bank account. Stipulations in the power of attorney can act like a “living will,” spelling out exactly what should be done with assets left behind in the event that the signer is detained or deported.
2. A temporary guardianship: a formal agreement that can be prepared ahead of time and filed with a court if deportation occurs. It gives the caregiver full authority to make decisions as though they were the parent including what school the child attends or what vaccinations are given. Depending on the situation, guardianship can be binding until the child's 18th birthday.
In addition, planning for family reunification abroad, will require for the U.S. born children to have a valid passport. Thus, it may be a good idea to apply for U.S. passport for all U.S. born children, and depending on the country of citizenship of the parents, to apply for dual citizenship while the undocumented parents are present in the U.S. If the children have to be reunited with the parents abroad, they will likely need a visa, or proof of citizenship of the country of destination.
As stressful and terrifying it might be to even fathom this idea, if you are an undocumented immigrant with U.S. children, or assets in this country this is the time to make a plan and discuss it with your children and possible caretaker to minimize the possible terrible consequences of leaving it to fate!
For more information, contact us at Schonberg & Timerman, PL.