Detention and Asylum - Family Separation and Parental Rights

Parental Rights: Toolkit & Educational Resources

Detained or Deported: What About My Children? is a toolkit for families caught between the immigration and child welfare systems and those who assist them. Detained and deported parents struggle to make decisions about what will happen to their children, to participate in child welfare and family court processes that affect their custody rights and to reunite with their children at the conclusion of their immigration case. For too many families, the end result is prolonged separation, severe trauma to children and even termination of a parent’s custody rights.

Available in English (interactive or print) and Spanish (interactive or print), the toolkit provides detailed, step-by-step instructions, advice and resources to help parents protect and maintain their parental rights and make well-informed, critical decisions regarding the care and welfare of their children. It is designed for use by parents, government officials, attorneys, service providers, community organizations and family members.

Download the resources:

Digital downloads are free of charge. To have a free print version, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the language(s) you would like to recieve and your mailing address. To obtain more than one copy of each language, visit this page.

"Detained or Deported: What About My Children?" Full Toolkit

The toolkit includes information on:

  • Protecting parental rights when detained or deported
  • Making care arrangements for children
  • Determining if a child is in the child welfare system and participating in that system
  • Complying with a child welfare ordered reunification plan
  • Participating in family court proceedings
  • Reunifying with children following release from detention or deportation

The toolkit also includes:

  • Contact information for state child welfare agencies in all 50 states
  • Links to state-specific handbooks for parents with children in the child welfare system
  • Guidance on how to request appointed counsel in family court
  • List of states that provide court-appointed lawyers in family court
  • Instructions on applying for U.S. passports from detention
  • Contact information for adoption reunion registries
  • Contact information for child welfare agencies in Mexico and Central America

The toolkit is available in the law libraries of all detention centers housing adults for more than 72 hours. In addition, it is available to community organizations and social service providers around the United States. To access a copy, you may download it here English | Español (interactive), English | Español (print) or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Digital downloads are free of charge. To have a free print version, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the language(s) you would like to recieve and your mailing address. To obtain more than one copy of each language, visit this page.

Companion Resources

Detained or Deported? A 

Brief Guide to Maintaining Custody of Your Children

This document summarizes the toolkit’s most important points. It walks parents though critical steps to minimize the likelihood that children will be placed in the child welfare system and to participate in child custody proceedings.

Download: English | Español

Make a Plan: Undocumented Migrant Parents’ Guide to Preventing Family Separation

The threat of apprehension by immigration enforcement officials creates tremendous fear in communities and families. This guide contains some practical tips and suggested steps immigrant parents can take to prepare for and minimize the adverse consequences of a possible separation from their children.

Download: English | Español

Webinar on Strategies for Preserving Family Unity

This web-based training presents strategies for preserving family unity in the face of detention and removal. It was hosted by the Women's Refugee Commission, the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project and the Applied Research Center, with generous support from the Four Freedoms Fund.

Watch the web training (English). 

Two-Page Guide for Detained and Removed Parents with Child Custody Concerns

This easy-to-use guide provides parents with basic steps they can take to protect their parental rights; information on family court proceedings, parent-child visitation and coordinating care of children; and helpful ICE resources for detainees. ICE has made this guide available in the law libraries of all immigration detention facilities housing adults for more than 72 hours.

Download: English | Español

 

In addition to direct service tools, the Women’s Refugee Commission’s advocacy brings the plight of families caught between the immigration and child welfare systems to the attention of the U.S. government.