This resource provides guidance on how to navigate seven different scenarios in which children and their families may benefit from support services but face intersecting immigration and child welfare legal challenges. The analysis informs not only child welfare professionals including case workers, attorneys, and judges, but also immigration law professionals whose clients may interact with the state child welfare system. Understanding the complexities that arise when families interact with both systems is a critical step in better advocacy for and support of immigrant children and families.
Seven distinct scenarios are explored:
- Case 1: A child who lacks immigration status is experiencing abuse in the home by a nonparent.
- Case 2: A mother who lacks immigration status is detained by immigration enforcement authorities and fears separation from her son, who was born in Guatemala, and her U.S. citizen daughter.
- Case 3: A child who arrived in the United States as an unaccompanied minor becomes homeless after his sponsor placement with relatives falls through.
- Case 4: A child who lacks immigration status suffers from neglect at home while residing with his father, who also lacks status.
- Case 5: The mother of a U.S. citizen child is held in immigration detention and faces possible deportation from the United States.
- Case 6: A father in a foreign country seeks reunification with his child after the baby is removed from his mother in the United States.
- Case 7: A mother with deferred action experiences domestic violence in her home but is scared to contact authorities.
In May 2019, a coalition of national organizations gathered feedback from nearly six hundred advocates and attorneys from across the United States, learning that many immigrant victims of domestic and sexual violence are now too afraid to call the police or go to court to get help. The advocates report that survivors have an increased fear of deportation, retaliation by their abusers, and separation from their children.
Advisory Revised Oct 2018: How Will ‘Public Charge’ Proposed Policy Changes Impact Immigrant Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is planning to propose regulations that discard longstanding policy about the meaning and application of the “public charge” provisions of immigration law. Proposed policies will have a significant detrimental impact on survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault by deterring immigrant families, including those with U.S.-citizen children, from seeking help when they need it. Safety net benefits can help victims recover and escape from abuse and play a significant role in preventing future harm.
By ABA Center on Children and the Law