Planning is the key to making it through just about any event or activity and achieving your goal with as little stress as possible. We plan for all sorts of things, from dinner parties to our child's college education. Today, some are planning for an event that most of us don't have to worry about.
Immigration and Deportation
As you've undoubtedly heard, seen, or read about, a wave of immigration reform is sweeping coast to coast and border to border. Whether someone entered the country illegally, overstayed their visit on a temporary visa, or otherwise is in the US without permission, there are all sorts of crackdowns to worry about, such as:
These and other reform measures have many undocumented immigrants scared. They fear the worse case scenario: Deportation or removal from the US and back to their native lands. It's a valid fear, too. In 2010, nearly 400,000 illegal immigrants have been deported. And many in the US aren't sitting idly by and doing nothing.
Like US citizens, undocumented immigrants may make legally binding documents concerning many aspects of their lives in case of unforeseen events, such as their deportation. Here are some planning tools and tips you or a loved one can use if deportation is possibility:
Write down the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of:
- Your employers. They need to be contacted and arrangements can be made for remaining family members to get any unpaid wages
- Someone who can care for your children if you're detained. Make sure that person knows where your children go to school; that the school has that person's name and number; and that you've signed a form authorizing the school to release your children to that person
- Any banks where you have money on deposit, including account numbers
Belongings. Odds are, you have worldly possessions that you can't take with you if you're deported:
- If you have money in the bank, make sure your spouse or a loved one has access to the accounts. Put their names on the account by making it a joint account, or leave them a blank, signed check that she can fill-out and cash if you're detained or removed
- If you only have a few belongings - a little money, clothes, some furniture - make a list of what you have and where it's located. Add to the list who you'd like each belonging to go to if you're deported. Then, sign the list in front of a notary public - you're swearing under oath that the list shows your wishes, and it’s legally binding and enforceable
- Instead of a list, you may want to make a will. It spells exactly what you have and who you want to get it. A will is a good idea if you own real estate or have a lot of money or investments. If you don't have a will, the laws in the state where you live will determine who gets what, and sometimes the state may keep it. Keep in mind, though, your will goes into effect only after you die, such as if you pass away before you can re-enter the US legally
- A power of attorney or a trust document may also help make sure your belongings are cared for or go to your family
Family. If you're married, have children, or have children on the way, seriously consider making a will. There you can:
- Name the person who you want to step into your shoes as the parent for your child. If you don't legally name someone to care for your children, the laws of your sate will kick-in and she may be placed in foster care
- Make sure the child and your spouse get any property or money you leave behind in the US if deported
If you have a child with a US citizen, make sure the other parent's name is on the child's birth certificate. You should talk to an attorney to see if a maternity or paternity suit is needed to establish parentage and/or if adoption of the child is necessary.
Keep the documents you've made in a safe place and make sure a family member, loved one, or trusted friend knows where they are and can get to them quickly if you're detained by immigration officials.
Of course, no one wants to get deported. However, while the process may not be pleasant for you or your family, a little planning can help make sure your family and possessions are taken care of in the end.
Questions for Your Attorney
- Can a minor child be on my checking or savings account as a co-account holder? Can I deposit money into her own separate account?
- I'm a US citizen. If I marry the mother of my child and she's an undocumented immigrant, does the marriage make her a US citizen?
- Am I able to continue to work and care for my children during my deportation hearing?