| Authors: Nayeli Y. Chavez-Dueñas & Hector Y. Adames |
Prevention is the most important strategy to protect the wellbeing of children of undocumented parents during these unpredictable times. Thus, it is important for you to develop a Family Preparedness Plan (FPP) in the event you are detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Having a plan in place can help to decrease the fear children experience related to the possibility of having their parents be detained and/or deported. We encourage you to visit the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) which outlines how to complete a FPP. Below we provide you with some recommendations to consider.
Your FPP in Action
- Communicate the details of the FPP to the entire family so that everyone knows and understands their role in the plan.
- The FPP should also be explained to children in language they can understand. For example, it is important for children to know and understand what will happen and who will take care of them if their parents are detained.
- Memorize the contact information of the people you listed on your FPP and ensure that your child knows this information.
- Learn the number of an immigration lawyer, community organization, or the consulate/embassy of your country of origin so you can call them for support if you are detained by ICE.
Supporting your Child
- Allow children to ask questions and express their feelings including fears, confusion, anger, and the like, related to the possibility of detention and deportation.
- Remind your children that you love them and that your love for them is the reason why you came to this country. Let them know that no matter what, there is a plan in place for a family member to protect and take care of them.
- Seek professional help if you notice any changes in your child’s mood (sadness, irritability) or behavior (changes in appetite, sleep, anger outbursts).
- Maintain a normal routine so your children can feel a sense of stability and consistency.
- Having a strong connection with their culture of origin can help shield children from the poison of racism and hate. You can assist your children to feel proud of their cultural background by engaging them in cultural activities (e.g., festivals, parades, holiday celebrations).
- To support your child during these difficult times, you need to take care of your physical and emotional health. Eat healthy foods, exercise, sleep well, nurture your spirituality, and engage in activities that are fun and can help you relax such as dancing, singing, listening to music, cooking, and connecting with friends.
- It may be time to seek professional help if you notice the following changes: feeling sad or nervous all the time, your appetite has decreased or increased, you cannot sleep or are constantly sleepy. A mental health professional can help you learn strategies to cope and deal with stress and sadness.
- Remind yourself of the strengths that are inside of you; your determination, strong work-ethic, adaptability and esperanza. These strengths allowed you to cross borders, arrive to this country, and find a way to survive and raise your family. The same strengths will help you find ways to survive regardless of what happens.
Chavez-Dueñas, N.Y. & Adames, H.Y. (2018). Mixed status immigrant families in times of fear and uncertainty. A Toolkit for parents. Immigration, Critical Race, and Cultural Equity Lab. Retrieved from http://www.icrace.org.
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