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What happens to your children if you’re detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)? What happens if you’re deported?

These are among the most valid worries that an undocumented immigrant with children can face in this country. An arrest can come without warning, and you can’t count on ICE agents to be concerned about what happens to your children.

You need a family plan, just in case it happens to you. Here’s how to start:

  • Decide who is willing and able to care for your children if you are detained or deported so that you can work on a safety plan together.
  • Create a legal agreement. You can have powers of attorney drawn up that will allow your chosen caretaker to make decisions for your children in your absence. A temporary guardianship is also a viable option. (You may even need a combination of these documents.)
  • Put all of the important documents your children’s caretaker will need in one, easy-to-locate place. This not only makes it easier for the caretaker to step in to your shoes, but it can make it easier to reunite with your children down the road.
  • Leave the contact information for your chosen caregiver in an obvious place in case you aren’t able to make the call yourself right away after being detained.
  • Talk to your children about the plans. If your children are old enough, have them memorize their caretaker’s name and contact information. Don’t alarm them — but help them understand what steps to take and who to call if you suddenly aren’t home when you’re expected.

Living with the fear of deportation hanging over your head is incredibly stressful. Find out what legal steps you can take to help ensure that your children are in good hands.