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H.R.5414 - Help Separated Families Act of 2018

To ensure that immigration status alone does not disqualify a parent, legal guardian, or relative from being a placement for a foster child, to authorize discretion to a State, county, or other political subdivision of a State to delay filing for termination of parental rights in foster care cases in which an otherwise fit and willing parent or legal guardian has been deported or is involved in (including detention pursuant to) an immigration proceeding, unless certain conditions have been met, and for other purposes.



You might favor this bill if:
►  You believe children of detained or deported parents should have a chance to reunify with their parents or live in the permanent care of other relatives. Detained or deported parents should then have the opportunity to coordinate the travel of their children back to their home country.

You might oppose this bill if:
►  You believe that parents who are detained or deported should not get the ability to reunify with their children or get a chance to arrange for their child's foster care. These are harsh consequences for being undocumented and breaking the law.

The Help Separated Families Act would ensure that immigration status does not disqualify a parent, legal guardian, or relative from being a "foster parent" for a foster child and allows a State, county, or city to delay filing for termination of parental rights in foster care cases in which an otherwise fit and willing parent has been detained, deported, or is in an immigration proceeding.

According to Rep. Roybal-Allard's press release, the bill would specifically:
• Ensure that the immigration status of a parent, legal guardian, or relative caregiver is not by itself grounds for disqualification from being a placement for a child;
• Require that child welfare agencies accept foreign documentation as sufficient identification for the purposes of a child welfare placement background check; and
• Prohibit child welfare agencies from filing for termination of parental rights in cases when a fit and willing parent or relative has been deported, detained, or is otherwise involved in an immigration proceeding, unless certain conditions have been met.

The legislation has been introduced in the wake of the latest policy scandal where a growing number of children are separated from their families and placed in the child welfare system following a parent’s detention or removal by immigration authorities. Although the Trump administration had introduced a "zero-tolerance" enforcement of the law, previous cases of child separation in the event of their parent's deportation happened under the Obama administration as well.

The bill ensures any case manager is capable of speaking the native language of the child and the child's family, or at least having an interpreter present at all times at no cost.

It gives the parents the choice to have their children go back to their countries with them, giving them ample time to coordinate and collect all relevant vital documents such as birth certificate, health, and educational records, and other information.

The measure makes certain that privacy and confidentiality of records are not shared with other governmental organizations or agencies.

"When a child enters the child welfare system, reunification efforts with their families are often complicated by a lack of coordination between the federal immigration system and state child welfare systems. It is considered a child welfare best practice to place children who are separated from their parents with other relatives, yet many child welfare agencies refuse to place children with otherwise qualified family members solely because the relatives are undocumented. In addition, child welfare agencies may be reluctant to reunify children with a parent or relative outside of the U.S. following a parent’s removal, which can result in the inappropriate termination of parental rights," says Rep. Roybal-Allard in her press release. "As a result, children are needlessly separated from their parents. With the Administration’s expansion of interior enforcement, parental deportation and family separation can now impact families living almost anywhere in the country."


“Our recent research found that even the youngest children—most of whom are U.S. citizens—are living every day with the fear that their parents could be taken away. Those who have already lost a parent as a result of immigration enforcement suffer the greatest harm to their stability and long-term development. The Help Separated Families Act is an important bill that would help children who end up in the child welfare system to reunify with their detained or deported parents and protect them from the unimaginable consequence of being permanently separated,” says Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).


H.R.5412

Sponsored by: Rep. Roybal-Allard, Lucille [D-CA-40].

Cosponsored by: 0 Rep / 22 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.




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