According to a study conducted by the Migration Policy Institute approximately five million (5,000,000) children under eighteen (18) have at least one (1) parent who is an undocumented immigrant. Of these children, seventy-nine percent (79%) are American citizens. In the second half of 2015, ICE removed fifteen thousand four hundred twenty-two (15,422) parents who said they have at least one (1) U.S.-born child, according to ICE data.
Research has shown that separation from parents can generate or exacerbate child mental health problems such as depressive or anxiety disorder and can impact a child’s development and education.
There is no uniform national policy with regard to the status of children who are separated from one (1) or both parents due to deportation. In some instances the involved government agencies have assisted families in reunifying. In others children have been placed into foster care and in some cases agencies have taken legal action to oppose reunification or placement with guardians of the parents’ choice. The lack of clear policy guidelines or criteria for specific action (or inaction) has led to inconsistent actions and policies at the discretion of agents charged with securing the best interests of the children.
It shall be the policy of all agencies acting under County jurisdiction that in the absence of evidence of abuse, neglect, or other physical or emotional danger to the child due to parental conduct the policy shall be to assist the families according to the wishes of the parents as Federal and State law allow and to the extent resources are available. Guardians appointed by parents through formal process or power of attorney shall be recognized and respected, and guardianship as intended by the parents shall not be opposed on the basis of residential or citizenship status.
In the event that an agency shall make the determination that appointed guardianship and/or parental reunification is not in the best interests of the child, the determination shall be made in writing which shall be mailed to the parents and appointed guardians if an address can be ascertained, and that such written determination shall be mailed at least fifteen (15) days prior to any legal action unless the agency determines that the child is in immediate danger. (Ord. 2618, § 1, 12/11/2018)