Since HB56 went into effect, Alabama has become increasingly unsafe for immigrants and their families. While no one wants to think about the possibility of be- ing taken into custody by immigration, immigrant par- ents should take steps to prepare for the possibility of separation from their children. This will increase the likelihood that they can reunify with their children if they are detained or deported.
Please note that this information is provided for infor- mational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The situation in Alabama is changing rapidly and it is always advisable to seek the assistance of an attorney who can help answer any questions you may have. If you try to access government services (includ- ing applying for a passport, talking with your children's school or going before a court) you could risk arrest. Please make decisions carefully and, if possible, ask someone with legal status to help you.
How to prepare for possible separation:
1) Have a plan. Decide who you want to care for your children in the event you are picked up by immigration and make sure that person is willing and able to take care of your children, possibly for weeks or months. A relative is a good choice, but only if they have legal status.
2) Talk your plan over with your children. Make sure your children know who they will live with if you are picked up by immigration and make sure they are com- fortable with this person.
3) Memorize contact information for your chosen caregiver(s) and make sure your children do the same. If you are picked up by immigration, you may not be able to make a phone call or access your cell phone to look up this information.
4) Collect your children's important documents. If you are detained and deported, you will not have an opportunity to gather this information before you leave.
5) Consider a power of attorney. If you are arrested, your chosen caregiver(s) will need to make decisions about your children. A power of attorney is an agree- ment between you and someone you trust that gives them your permission to make these decisions. A pow- er of attorney will not impact your custody of your chil- dren and you can end the agreement at any time. But it will be difficult to give someone your power of attorney if you are detained, so if you want to enter in a power of attorney agreement you should do so now.
6) Consider registering your U.S. children's birth.
If you are deported, your embassy may be able to as- sist you in reuniting with your children. However, many governments can only help if you have registered your U.S. citizen children's birth with them. If you have U.S. citizen children, call your consulate and ask about the process for registering your children. Registering your children with your home country will not effect their U.S. citizenship in any way.
What to do if you are detained:
1) Tell police and immigration officials that you have children and ask to be considered for discretion and release. You may need to ask repeatedly.
2) Contact your children's caregiver(s) and tell them where you are being held.
3) Stay in touch with your children and their caregiver(s) if you are detained. Phone calls from detention may be very expensive but it is important that you stay in touch. Your family and your children's care- giver should call the phone company and ask them to make sure they can receive collect calls from a prison.
4) If you expect you will be deported tell your de- portation officer if you want to take your children with you. Immigration officials generally will not let your children travel with you, but if they know your wishes they may be willing to help.
5) Contact your consulate and ask them to help you take your children with you. Contact information for your consulate should be posted in the detention cen- ter. If you do not know how to find this information ask the guards or your deportation officer.
6) If your children are placed into the custody of the child welfare system or in foster care, your rights as a parent may be challenged. If you receive a letter from the Alabama Department of Human Resourc- es or Alabama Child Protective Services it is VERY important that you communicate with that office IMMEDIATELY. Make sure you: