Monday, May 31, 2010

HELP children whose immigrant parents are detained

FV Indiana shares the following for your consideration:

Dear Family Voices and F2F HIC Friends:

I am writing to urge you to support Senator Franken’s HELP Separated
Children Act. I am including a copy of an email from his office along
with the letter of support and the list of endorsers to date.

Why should Family Voices and F2F HICs be concerned about this
legislation?

Currently, when immigration agents apprehend a parent or caregiver,
there is no requirement that they be given the opportunity to make
childcare arrangements. If they are detained, there is no requirement
that parents or caregivers be informed of the location of their
children or be permitted to communicate with child welfare agencies and
comply with reunification plans. Furthermore, there is no guarantee
that detained parents will have sufficient time and access prior to
removal to obtain travel documents for their children. As a result,
many parents and caregivers who are deported are unable to arrange to
have their children join them in their home country. Unnecessary
separations of children from their parents threaten the child’s safety,
security, well-being and longer-term development and should be avoided
whenever possible. This is especially true for children with
disabilities and special healthcare needs!!!

The HELP Separated Children Act establishes guidelines for immigration
enforcement actions that will ensure that these actions do not
unnecessarily harm children and families. Specifically, the
legislation would require that state child welfare agencies and NGOs be
granted access to all individuals who have an ICE detainer lodged
against them or who are in the physical custody of the Department of
Homeland Security to assist in determining whether the individual is a
parent, legal guardian, or primary caregiver of a child in the United
States. It would also require that anyone believed to be a parent or
guardian be granted phone calls to make care arrangements for their
children

So please review the information below carefully, and add your support
to ensure that immigrant children or citizen children whose parents are
immigrants, particularly those with disabilities and special healthcare
needs, are not unnecessarily separated from their parents.

Thank you.

Diana Autin
Executive Co-Director
SPAN

Below, you will find an updated letter listing our
coalition. With over 100 national and state organizations behind this
effort, our support is substantial—and we feel good about where we are.

We have decided to introduce the bill after the recess, likely on
Thursday, June 10, to build further support in the Senate. We would be
grateful for any additional help you could provide in strengthening our
organizational coalition. We are accepting new endorsements through
close of business on June 9th.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (202)
224-1024.

On behalf of Senator Franken, his staff, the Women’s Refugee Commission
and the First Focus Campaign for Children—THANK YOU.

Best regards,
Alvaro Bedoya

Alvaro M. Bedoya
Counsel
Office of Senator Al Franken
(202) 224-5641

****

May 27, 2010

RE: Support for S. _____, the Humane Enforcement and Legal
Protections (HELP) for Separated Children Act

Dear Senator:

We, the undersigned organizations, urge you to support S. _____, the
HELP Separated Children Act, sponsored by Senator Al Franken (D-MN).
This bill would implement critically needed reforms to protect children
impacted by immigration enforcement.

Enforcement activities conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(“ICE”) and local law enforcement agencies operating under agreement
with ICE too often result in unnecessary harm to children, families and
communities. In recent years, ICE has arrested and detained hundreds
of thousands of people, many of whom have U.S. citizen children.
Parents who are detained are separated from their children, sometimes
permanently, and always at great cost to the well-being of the family
and the community.

At a time when immigration enforcement continues to expand, the HELP
Separated Children Act would provide critical, nationwide protocols to
prevent children from unnecessary placement in foster care while their
parent’s or caregiver’s case is pending. It would do so by ensuring
that parents and caregivers apprehended during immigration enforcement
are identified and treated with special concern for the best interest
of their minor children.

Currently, when ICE or its surrogates apprehend a parent or caregiver,
there is no requirement that they be given the opportunity to make
childcare arrangements. If they are detained, there is no requirement
that parents or caregivers be informed of the location of their
children or be permitted to communicate with child welfare agencies and
comply with reunification plans. Furthermore, there is no guarantee
that detained parents will have sufficient time and access prior to
removal to obtain travel documents for their children. As a result,
many parents and caregivers who are deported are unable to arrange to
have their children join them in their home country. Unnecessary
separations of children from their parents threaten the child’s safety,
security, well-being and longer-term development and should be avoided
whenever possible.

The HELP Separated Children Act establishes guidelines for immigration
enforcement actions that will ensure that these actions do not
unnecessarily harm children and families. Specifically, the
legislation would require that state child welfare agencies and NGOs be
granted access to all individuals who have an ICE detainer lodged
against them or who are in the physical custody of the Department of
Homeland Security to assist in determining whether the individual is a
parent, legal guardian, or primary caregiver of a child in the United
States. It would also require that anyone believed to be a parent or
guardian be granted phone calls to make care arrangements for their
children.

The HELP Separated Children Act would also require that apprehended
parents, legal guardians, and primary caregivers who cannot be released
remain in the area in which they were apprehended until care
arrangements have been made for their child. Furthermore, it would
promote family reunification at the time a parent’s or caregiver’s
immigration case concludes by ensuring that detained parents can
communicate with their children, the child welfare system, and family
courts. This legislation would reduce unnecessary strain on children
and save taxpayers millions of dollars by reducing the likelihood that
children will be placed unnecessarily into the foster care system.

We urge you to support this legislation to restore our nation’s
commitment to child welfare and family values. The federal
government’s current apprehension methods and detention and removal
policies have resulted in traumatized children and broken families.
The HELP Separated Children Act will ensure that as we enforce our
laws, we protect the sanctity of the family in American society.

Sincerely,

National Organizations
American Humane Association
American Immigration Lawyers Association
American Muslim Voice
America’s Promise Alliance
American Nursery & Landscape Association
Amnesty International USA
Asian American Justice Center
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance
Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
Bridging Group
Catholic Charities USA
Church World Service, Immigration and Refugee Program
Every Child Matters Education Fund
Family Violence Prevention Fund
First Focus Campaign for Children
Foster Care Alumni of America
Foster Family-based Treatment Association
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
Human Rights Watch
Immigration Equality
Immigrant Legal Resource Center
Juvenile Law Center
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
Latino Commission on AIDS
Legal Momentum
Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services (LIRS)
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. – Washington Office
National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
National Association of Social Workers
National Consumers League
National Council of La Raza
National Immigration Forum
National Immigration Law Center
National Immigrant Justice Center
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium
National Latino AIDS Action Network
National Policy Partnership
OCA
Physicians for Human Rights
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, South Central Community
Sojourners
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Voices for America's Children
Women’s Refugee Commission
Youth Build USA
Zero to Three

State and Local Organizations

Arizona
Children’s Action Alliance
Florence Project
MEChA Arizona Student Union

Arkansas
Arkansas Voices

California
Center for Farmworker Families
Public Counsel

Connecticut
Connecticut Voices for Children

District of Columbia
Ayuda
The Episcopal Church

Florida
Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center
Florida Legal Services, Inc.
Gulfcoast Legal Services, Inc.
Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, Inc.
Legal Ministry H.E.L.P., Inc.

Georgia
Asian American Legal Advocacy Center, Inc. (AALAC) of Georgia
Georgia Rural Urban Summit
Latinos for Education & Justice Organization

Illinois
Instituto del Progreso Latino
Maria Baldini-Potermin & Associates

Iowa
Child and Family Policy Center, Iowa
National Association of Social Workers, Iowa Chapter

Kentucky
Kentucky Youth Advocates

Maine
Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project
Maine Children’s Alliance

Michigan
Michigan’s Children

Minnesota (selected listing)
Advocates for Human Rights
Catholic Charities of St. Paul& Minneapolis
Children’s Law Center of Minnesota
Church World Service
Family & Children’s Service
Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
Interfaith Coalition on Immigration
ISAIAH
Jewish Community Action
Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers
Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance
Minnesota Agri-Growth Council
Minnesota Catholic Conference
Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association
Minnesota Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Minnesota Milk Producers Association
Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association
UFCW Local 789 – South St. Paul
UFCW Local 1161 – Worthington
UNITE Here, Minnesota State Council

New Jersey
Association for Children of New Jersey
Casa Esperanza
IRATE & First Friends
Statewide Parent Advocacy Network

New Mexico
For Families, LLC.
New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Protective Services Division
New Mexico Women's Justice Project
PBJ Family Services, Inc.

New York
Coalition for Asian American Children and Families
The Osborne Association
Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy

North Carolina
Action for Children North Carolina

Oklahoma
Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy

Oregon
Immigrant Counseling Services

South Carolina
South Carolina Appleseed

Texas
Catholic Charities of Dallas, Inc., Immigration & Legal Services
Center for Public Policy Priorities
Daya Inc.
Wilco Justice Alliance

Washington
Children's Home Society of Washington

Diana MTK Autin
Executive Co-Director
Statewide Parent Advocacy Network
(973) 642-8100 x 105
diana.autin@spannj.org
Empowered Parents: Educated, Engaged, Effective!

1 comment:

Maggie T. said...

That is ridiculous that they aren't even considering what happens to these children. i feel that they should be required to go wherever their parents are sent off to, or set up with a good family because it is not their fault that their parents are being detained, especially if the children have disabilities. Is that what we stand for now? Throwing/leaving people around because they aren't worth it? I hope this Act gets passed.