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Deportation of Parents

Q: If a parent is deported, what happens to reunification services?

A: If a parent is otherwise entitled to receive services to reunify with their child, the court shall order reunification services unless it is clearly and convincingly a detriment to the child. Detention by Homeland Security and even deportation does not affect this fact. Reasonable services can include anything reasonable, including paying for phone calls (even those made collect), transportation, visitation, etc. 35

Q: Is there anything stopping the deportation of parents – even if the child is a U.S. citizen?

A: No. President Obama attempted to institute a policy for deferred action for parents of children who were lawful residents, but on February 16, 2015, a federal court judge issued a temporary injunction stopping its implementation. 36 While there is an ICE Parental Interests Directive that encourages immigration officials to consider the effects on families, but this is does not stop deportation proceedings. 37

Q: In California, can the police detain someone because they have an immigration hold by the federal government?

A: Since 2014, California law enforcement officials are not supposed to detain someone eligible for release just because they have an immigration hold. Of course, releasing the individual can only occur if consistent with law and the alleged crime is not one of the serious ones listed in statute (note, criminal child abuse and/or endangerment are crimes that would allow an immigration hold). 38

Q: What are the paths to legal residency that one can consider?

A: Options include: asylum, Temporary Protected Status, “U” visas for victims of serious crimes, “T” Visas for victims of human trafficking (including labor and sex trafficking), and “VAWA self-petition” based on family abuse perpetrated by a U.S. citizen or lawful resident. These options, and others, should be discussed with a qualified immigration attorney.

Q: Are there any policies to help ensure that parental detention or deportation has a minimal impact on the child?

A: There is a general directive to federal immigration personnel to try to limit the disruption of parental rights when enforcing immigration laws. 39 More information can be had by reading All County Information Notice I-68-15.

35 See Welf. & Inst. Code § 361.5(e)(1) and All County Letter 14-21.
36 See the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program and subsequent injunction in State of Texas, et al. v. United States, No. 1:14-cv-254 (S.D. Tex. Feb. 16, 2015).
37 See ACIN I-68-15, see also US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Directive 11064.1 available 3/6/17 at:

38 See Gov’t Code § 7282.5 sub. (a)(1)(E), and (b).
39 See ACIN I-68-15, see also US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Directive 11064.1 available 3/6/17 at: