U.S. Law Center

Beware the harm that fear of deportation can do to children

For undocumented immigrants with children who are U.S. citizens, the current political climate may be causing severe anxiety as they struggle to determine the right plan of action in an emergency.

Some people may believe that becoming less visible is the best way to prevent deportation. For those whose children need public assistance, that may make life difficult.

Jeopardizes medical care

In California, Medi-Cal provides health benefits to children from low-income families, whether they are undocumented or U.S citizens. Emergency department visits or ongoing medical treatment for serious health problems may be what keeps some children from deteriorating rapidly. But parents who fear their own deportation would put their child in just as much danger may wonder if they should risk doing without these critical services.

Eliminates assistance opportunities

Low-income families with children who are citizens often qualify for programs such as SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps. According to NPR, nonprofit organizations that provide help to people who want to apply are noticing a sharp drop in the number of immigrants seeking this type of assistance, even though it may be their only means of adequately feeding their families.

Creates stress

Fear of being left behind has led many young children to suffer physically and mentally as they work with their parents to develop a plan if they are suddenly on their own. These arrangements often include the names and contact information of people who are willing take them in, at least temporarily, and resources for their care. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to have such contingency plans available to them, a fact that leads many parents to hide in their homes as much as possible.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement may be taking an aggressive role in deporting undocumented immigrants, but federal laws are in place to protect families. An attorney who understands the nuances of these laws may be able to build a legal strategy that keeps parents and children together.

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