NOGALES, AZ - A new directive from Washington may keep children of undocumented parents with their mom and dad and out of the foster care system.
Between 2010 and 2012, more than 200,000 parents of U.S. born children were detained and deported for being in the country illegally. Currently, there are more than 5,000 citizen children in the foster care system because their parents were sent back to their country of origin. It is estimated more than 15,000 children will end up in foster care by 2016.
But a new directive -- that builds off Immigration Customs and Enforcement's current policy -- allows agents to show more discretion when detaining undocumented parents who are the sole provider or guardian of minor children.
ICE says parents with criminal convictions do not apply to the new directive. They are still focused on detaining and deporting anyone who has been convicted of a crime or is a violent threat to the public or national security.
More information on the Directive from ICE:
The Parental Interests Directive complements existing ICE policy by helping ICE better manage and track cases involving detained parents or legal guardians who have minor children who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents or are primary caretakers of minor children. It clarifies that ICE officers and agents may, on a case-by-case basis, utilize alternatives to detention for these individuals particularly when the detention of a non-criminal alien would result in a child being left without an appropriate parental caregiver.
Q: What kind of cases does the Parental Interest Directive cover?
A: The Parental Interest Directive complements ICE policy and procedures to address certain alien parents. The Parental Interests Directive addresses the placement, monitoring, accommodation and removal of alien parents or legal guardians who are: 1) Primary caretakers of minor children 2) Parent and legal guardians who have a direct interest in family court proceedings involving a minor or child welfare proceedings in the United States; and 3) Parents or legal guardians whose minor children are U.S. citizens (USCs) or lawful permanent residents (LPRs).
Q: How is the parental interest directive different from ICE’s previously announced discretion policies that said ICE would handle cases involving parents of minor children with the utmost care?
A: The directive specifically outlines several requirements for ICE ERO field office directors handling cases involving detained parents or legal guardians who are have minor children who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents or are primary caretakers of minor children or who are involved in family court or child welfare proceedings. These requirements include 1) Designating a specific point of contact within each field office for parental interests 2) Ensuring that all of the relevant information about each case is entered into ICE’s data and tracking systems 3) Developing processes to regularly identify and review cases involving parents, legal guardians and primary caretakers 4) Determining whether an exercise of prosecutorial discretion is warranted 5) Determining detention placement 6) Facilitating court participation as appropriate 7) Allowing parent-child visitation and 8) Accommodating detainee arrangements for children.
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