Many undocumented parents, with minor children who were born in the U.S. are facing a tough choice.
Who will they leave their children with if they are deported?
In 2015, more than 15,000 undocumented immigrants, who claimed to have at least one U.S. Citizen child were processed for removal, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Studies done by the Migration Policy Institute, estimate there are 5 million children under the age of 18, living with at least one undocumented parent. Seventy-nine percent of those children are U.S. Citizens.
Casa Cornelia Law Center Executive Director, Carmen Chavez suggests families get informed because having a preparedness plan in place is invaluable.
Chavez said parents should have an open conversation with their families, create a power of attorney, update children’s emergency contacts at school, and leave a clear outline of what should be done with any assets left behind.
“It might be that the parents are returning to an uncertain future in their country of origin," she said.
According to Chavez, the parents fear putting their children in a bad environment.
“I have spoken to clients of mine that say my child is a U.S. Citizen. They should be here because they are U.S. Citizens," Chavez said.
NBC 7 spoke with some families who are facing a similar situation. Although many agreed this was important information, others are afraid to comment on a public forum.
“The human side, the real side, is that some of these persons are parents, parents of U.S. Citizens. They might be caretakers for elderly parents," explains Chavez.
In some of the worst cases, parents can lose custody of their children, and the children could end up in foster care.
People needing help finding the right type of legal assistance can contact the San Diego County Bar Association’s attorney referral program.
NBC 7 also reached out to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Their statement, in part, read:
“ICE is committed to ensuring that the agency’s immigration enforcement activities, including detention and removal, do not unnecessarily disrupt the parental rights of alien parents and legal guardians of minor children. ICE makes custody determinations consistent with controlling law and precedential legal decisions on an individualized basis considering the unique facts of each case. Among other factors, ICE may consider whether the individual is a parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or the primary care taker of any minor. For parents who are ordered removed, it is their decision whether or not to relocate their children with them."