How To Prepare
The good news is that there are a bunch of resources to help you and your family with literally every step while creating a plan for deportation. Before we get into the specifics of preparing for deportation, here are a few resources you should know:
Make sure to give this resource to your parents. You can put in your zip code and it will give you information on local:
Mental Health Support Groups - For if you or anyone in your family feels sad and wants to talk to someone about it
Healthcare Access - Sometimes undocumented immigrants will avoid getting insurance or going to the hospital because they are afraid it may expose them for not being legal in the country. However, there are certain organizations (that can be found using this resource) that are specifically immigrant friendly.
Legal Help - The help of a lawyer is crucial for deciding where your parent/guardian's belonging will go after deportation, and in fact, crucial for setting up a new guardian for you if you choose to stay in the U.S. Here you can find discounted legal advice in your area.
Financial Assistance - These organizations will help your parent/guardian learn how to navigate finances along with providing job support.
General Community Organizations - There are many other organizations that are fighting for immigrant rights, here you can find some of those other organizations and learn more about what is being done to help in the rights of your parent/guardian.
To find even more immigration lawyers that can help you and your family, use this resource. There are 15,000 immigration lawyers using this site, and plenty of options such as the ability to find a lawyer who speaks a language better suited for your parent/guardian.
If a loved one has already been detained and awaits deportation, you can use this resource to find where he/she is being held, and get information on their situation. Simply fill in their first and last name, and country of birth, and they will give you the exact location of where your loved one is being held.
Make sure you give your parent/guardian all of this information before approaching the next steps.
After having the 'Deportation Talk' with your parent/guardian, it's important to get into the specifics of what will happen in the case of an emergency.
In some situations, your parent/guardian may be detained during a raid and will suddenly disappear - not coming home from work and not letting you know what happened. You need to be aware of this, and realize that if this happens, it very well could be that your parent/guardian was taken in a raid.
Here are the steps to take to prepare for this random disappearance of your guardian:
Make sure you and your family are clear on who can and cannot pick you up from school
In the case of an ICE raid, your parent/guardian wouldn't be able to pick you up after school. In case they do end up detained, they should have a plan on who will pick you up from school instead of them, and they need to tell you that. Only be picked up from school by someone who your parent/guardian has previously told you could pick you up.
If you are waiting for a long time at school and your parent/guardian isn't there to pick you up, make sure your parent/guardian gives you the contact information of the people who can and cannot pick you up, and call them.
Make sure you carry a set of keys to the house
Say you do get picked up by school your parent/guardian is detained, and you can't get in. Make sure that you have a copy of everything needed to get into the house in case your parent/guardian aren't there.
Have your medical records up to date
In case you are handed off to another guardian, your parent needs to make sure all your medical records are updated. Along with this, you yourself should know your medical records, because your parent/guardian may not be around to tell doctors of your medical record. It's now your responsibility.
If you have a younger sibling, make sure they are accounted for
They also need to have emergency contacts that can pick them up from school, and they espicially need to have their medical records up to date.
Have a list of emergency contacts and number and keep one copy on you at all times, and one copy at home in a place where the whole family knows.
This should include basic information on the children, such as:
doctor's phone numbers
Along with this, have a list of emergency contacts
friends/family who act as emergency contacts
the contact information of the pre-decided guardian who will replace your current guardian if they are deported
Completing the needed paperwork
Once all of these specifics are squared away, the next step requires a bit of research and legal work, so if your family can find access to a lawyer, perhaps through one of the resources above, it would be really helpful. In some areas you can even find completely free immigration attorneys, such as in Connecticut, where you have organizations such as Building One Community.
If you are unable to get a lawyer, some states have individualized Family Preparedness Plans that are available online. Certain procedures (especially in regards to guardianship) are different between states, so try to find one of these Family Preparedness Plans for your home state (there are a few examples linked below).
We recommend starting with the 'General' option, and then searching for a Family Preparedness Plan for your state. If your state doesn't have an available Family Preparedness Plan, look through a few of the ones linked above, because more than likely, a lot of the information listed there will be applicable in your state as well.
The main difference between states has to do with guardianship, which can be read about here.
In some cases, there doesn't necessarily have to be a lot of paperwork involved when designating a guardian. A verbal agreement (when your current parent/guardian and potential new guardian agree that if they are deported, you are living with this new guardian) is informal and easy, however, it means they will not be able to sign off on medical or school records. There also may be issues with your new guardians being unable to prove that they have your parents' permission to be raising you. That being said, some families are unable to complete the official guardianship paperwork prior to deportation, in which case, a verbal agreement is the only option.
Along with this, if you're almost 18, a verbal agreement may be an acceptable option as well, as you will soon be able to be your own guardian, and wouldn't need others to sign off on your school/medical records.
However, if you are younger, and especially if the family you are planning on living with if your parent/guardian is deported lives far away and you will need to change schools, you really should do the required paperwork for an official new guardian/caregiver.
Each state has its own laws regulating legal guardianship of children and its own requirements regarding the appointment of someone to become the guardian of a child. To avoid complications and be sure the arrangements made by your parents will hold up and be legally enforceable, consider meeting with an experienced family law attorney.