via @WRCommission: More Information on ICE’s Parental Interests Directive & Announcing Guide for Detained Parents
via Emily Butera, Senior Program Officer, Migrant Rights and Justice Program, Women’s Refugee Commission
Since there has been traffic over the weekend about ICE’s new Parental Interests Directive (and some mischaracterizations about what it is – and isn’t – from the press and Rep. Goodlatte), Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) wanted to pass along some basic background analysis and share a new resource we have created.
The Directive is intended to keep children from entering the child welfare system when a parent is detained or deported, and to ensure that detained and deported parents are able to participate in child welfare proceedings that impact their parental rights. It does NOT address visitation of detained children or parental participation in detained children’s immigration proceedings, despite several erroneous media reports. By our read, it also does not expand ICE’s prosecutorial discretion authority.
ICE will be gradually unrolling the policy in the months to come. In the meantime, many of the concepts in the policy are reflected in WRC’s new “Guide for Detained and Removed Parents with Child Custody Concerns.” This resource, released on Friday, is designed to help detained parents navigate the child welfare system from detention. It is being made available in all ICE over 72 hour facilities beginning this week. Detained parents should be able to find it on the computers in law libraries (please let us know if you hear of parents who are struggling to access it). This resource is the precursor to our larger toolkit for detained parents with child custody concerns, which we will be releasing soon.
I am attaching the 2 page PDF guide here in both English and Spanish. Please distribute widely to your networks. It can also be accessed in both English and Spanish from our website.
Lastly, WRC will be releasing a more detailed analysis of the Directive in the next day or so. In the meantime, our press release from Friday provides the basic contours of the policy, and is pasted below. If you have any questions or would like more information, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Women’s Refugee Commission Welcomes Parental Interests Directive
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 23, 2013 —The Women’s Refugee Commission welcomes the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) long-awaited and critical Parental Interests Directive, which was issued today.
The Parental Interests Directive will not reduce the number of immigration enforcement actions taking place across the country and does not change the fact that thousands of families are separated due to our broken immigration system, but is an important step forward in the effort to protect the parental rights of those in immigration custody. The directive will make it easier for detained immigrant parents to make appropriate arrangements for the care of their children, and to participate in court proceedings to determine custody of their children when possible. This will reduce the number of children who are unnecessarily placed into the child welfare system as a result of immigration enforcement actions, will help ensure that children whose parents are detained remain safe and are able to maintain communication with their parents, and will increase the likelihood that children will be reunited with their parents at the conclusion of the parents’ immigration proceedings.
The Women’s Refugee Commission has played a key leadership role in raising awareness of the need for such a policy and proposing policy solutions.
“We have been engaging with DHS for several years to propose and promote policies that protect the parental rights of immigrants and promote the best interests of children in families caught up in immigration enforcement,” said Michelle Brané, Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice Program. “No parent should lose custody of their children simply because they are involved in immigration proceedings.”
The Parental Interests Directive will help reduce the unintentional consequences of immigration enforcement on families caught between the immigration and child welfare systems.
“This announcement is an important acknowledgement that immigration enforcement can be carried out in a more humane and child-friendly manner,” says Brané. “We will continue to push for laws and policies that prevent the separation of parents and children for any length of time”
Coinciding with the Parental Interests Directive, the Women’s Refugee Commission is releasing a two-page guide for detained and deported parents with child custody concerns.* This guide, which DHS will make available in all adult immigration detention facilities, provides parents with steps they can take to protect their parental rights; information on family court proceedings, parent-child visitation, and coordinating care of children; as well as helpful ICE resources for detainees.
The release of the two-page guide precedes the publication of the Women’s Refugee Commission’s larger toolkit for immigrant parents, which will provide detailed information on how to maintain their parental rights and better understand and navigate the child welfare system.