The Florence Project helps parents plan for the possibility of immigration detention.
It’s an all-too-common tragedy: An immigrant mother goes out on an errand and gets pulled over in a routine traffic stop. She can’t produce ID, is detained and put into ICE custody. Meanwhile, the Department of Child Safety takes her children. She can’t fight in court to keep her kids because she’s stuck in ICE detention. ICE won’t even let her use the phone to call the court. She loses custody of her kids.
It’s situations like this that spurred The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project to launch community training and an information packet called “What if I’m Picked Up By ICE in Arizona? Making a Family Plan.”
Think of it as a fire drill to avoid getting burned by ICE.
The plan of action includes identifying a caretaker and making formal arrangements with that person for taking care of the children long-term, including the cost involved, and possibly giving that person power of attorney or temporary guardianship. The training recommends organizing important documents about each child, making an emergency contact list, and saving money for an immigration bond.
The Florence Project has also advocated to improve the justice system in child custody cases. “We’ve done a lot of work over the years to try to increase communication amongst all parties involved and to have ICE let people use the phone to call into the court,” says executive director Lauren Dasse.
But to keep more families together, parents and members of the community must be proactive. That’s the goal of the information packets and trainings, Dasse says. “To start undocumented or mixed status communities thinking about this [and] to be prepared.”