Standby guardians are now recommended for deported parents.

The issue of undocumented immigrants in the US continues to be a hot button political issue. This is true in Florida, with one of the larger populations in the country. Further, the administration's crackdown on undocumented immigrants and subsequent deportation leads to an inevitable issue, namely what happens to the children of deported immigrants?

According to latest figures, at least 500,000 children of undocumented immigrants are raised by relatives such as aunts, uncles and grandparents. If custody is not granted to an extended family member the child may become a ward of the state and end up in the foster care system.

Legal advocates are now recommending that undocumented immigrants designate a legal guardian for children in the event of deportation. This procedure has several advantages. First, it places the children in a more familiar environment. Second, it involves less court time or court supervision and puts a state child welfare agency on notice of the wishes of the parent. Finally, it may make things easier for the guardian to obtain educational and assistance benefits.

Some states, such as Maryland and New York are making a push to streamline the process. Both states now permit an immigrant parent to designate a guardian in the event of a deportation proceeding. Parents would not waive parental rights by doing so. Several other states are considering similar legislation.

Undocumented immigrants in Florida must face a real threat of deportation and if this occurs, to be severed from his or her children. An immigrant parent should seek the services of an experienced family law or immigration attorney to determine what options are available. This action should be taken as a preventive measure, before deportation proceedings commence. Once detained, the parent may lose the ability to recommend a family member to care for his or her minor children.

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