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November 2013Vol. 14, No. 8Parental Interest Directive for Immigrant Parents

In response to the growing number of U.S. children whose immigrant parents have been detained or deported, a directive issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) aims to ensure these parents can maintain a relationship with their children and make decisions in their best interests. The directive is intended to promote family unity and reduce the harmful effects of parental separation. The child and family advocacy group First Focus developed a one-page factsheet outlining the need for the directive and its provisions.

About 5.5 million children in the United States—most of whom are U.S. citizens—live in mixed-legal status families and have one or more undocumented parents. Between July 1, 2010, and September 21, 2012, more than 200,000 removal orders for parents of U.S. citizens were issued by the Department of Homeland Security, accounting for roughly 23 percent of all removals during that time. These removal orders place children at risk of entering the child welfare system. Parents who have been detained or deported are often unable to participate in court proceedings, which can lead to termination of parental rights and make their children eligible for adoption. 

Family separation due to immigration enforcement can negatively affect a child's mental and physical health, financial security, and academic success. The ICE parental interest directive aims to ensure parents can make decisions regarding their children's care, maintain contact with their children, and participate in family court proceedings. 

The Parental Interest Directive factsheet is available on the First Focus website: