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How to Make an Immigration Emergency Plan

Immigration raids can be a scary possibility, so to prepare for this threat, experts recommend making an immigration emergency plan.

Creating a detailed family emergency plan is especially important if you don’t have legal status, or you’re a non-citizen living with minor children in the United States. With it, you’ll be better prepared for this scenario and know what to do to protect your family.

At SABEResPODER, we’ve put together the following recommendations to help you make an immigration emergency plan. We hope this information will help you and your family if you experience such an unfortunate emergency.  

Create a childcare plan

Parents in the process of obtaining legal status often fear for their kids and what could happen if they are detained and/or deported. For this reason, it’s essential to have a childcare plan in place as part of your larger immigration emergency plan. Here are some childcare recommendations that you should include in your family emergency plan.

1) Choose a guardian to take care of your kids

This could be a family member or a friend, but make sure it’s somebody you trust. This person must also be of legal age and have no criminal record.

2) Prepare an emergency folder

Your immigration emergency plan should also include a list of key personal contact information, an affidavit from the guardian you’ve chosen to care for your kids, and a folder containing your most important personal documents. Remember that a caregiver’s affidavit is a legal document, which must be notarized to be valid. 

3) Talk to your kids

Avoid worrying them - simply warn them. Tell your kids that if you’re detained, they’ll be well cared for by the trusted guardian you’ve chosen.

4) Notify your kids' school

Keep school authorities up to date about the person who will care for your children in the event you’re detained. This way only the guardian you’ve chosen will be able to pick up your kids from school and receive information about their academic performance.

5) Share your kids' medical conditions

You should keep a list of your kids’ medical conditions and whether they need to take any specific medications in your immigration emergency plan. You should also include information about your family’s doctor's office.

6) Get official IDs for your kids

Make sure all your kids have official IDs and/or valid passports.

7) Notify family about how to find you

Notify your family and friends about how to find you in case you’re detained by immigration authorities.

Key documents for your emergency folder

Make sure the deportation emergency plan folder you put together includes the following original documents, or a copy of them:

  • Birth certificates. (Note: If birth certificates were issued in a foreign language, it’s a good idea to get them officially translated to English.) 
  • Social Security Cards
  • Passports
  • Names and phone numbers of your kids’ school and teachers
  • Immunization records
  • Emergency numbers and key contact information
  • Caregiver’s Affidavit: This affidavit doesn’t impact the parents’ rights regarding care and custody of their child. It also doesn’t mean that the caregiver has legal guardianship. This affidavit simply allows the caregiver to register the child for school and give consent to medical and dental treatment, including immunizations.
  • Nomination, Consent & Appointment of Guardian forms: You can prepare guardianship forms in advance. Using these forms, you can nominate a specific person to be the guardian of your children. In addition, you can request that the nomination become effective if a certain event occurs – for example, if you’re detained and/or deported.

Know your rights

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Regardless of your immigration status, everyone living in the United States is protected by the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, it’s important for you to know and use your rights. For example, if immigration authorities detain you and want to deport you, you have the right to remain silent and ask for a lawyer.

You may want to include your lawyer’s contact information in your immigration emergency plan. Here are some common ways to find a lawyer:

If you find a lawyer in advance, be sure to add this information to your emergency plan. 

Remember that if you’re detained by immigration authorities, don’t sign any document without receiving legal advice from your lawyer!

Explore your immigration options

As part of your immigration emergency plan you should ask your lawyer about your immigration options. Depending on your personal history, you may have several options available to you. You may be eligible for a Permanent Resident Card, visa or work permit. 

If you have a criminal record or have been arrested in the past this may impact your situation, so seek out clear and trustworthy advice on what to do next and how to prepare.

In the event that you’ve been detained and/or are in deportation proceedings, ask for a hearing in front of a judge. This may give you a chance to get out of detention and legally fight your deportation.

Your immigration emergency plan should also cover how to rejoin your family in the event of a deportation. Ask your lawyer if you’re eligible to apply for readmission. Be sure you’re fully informed about your options post-deportation.

Of course, we hope you’ll never need to put your family immigration emergency plan into action. But better to have everything prepared, just in case.

For more information on how to make an immigration emergency plan, visit the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC).