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Reuniting with the deported parent

In 2012, President Obama deferred deportation proceedings and gave temporary employment permits to thousands of undocumented young immigrants under a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. But while these young immigrants were given temporary relief, their parents who brought them to the United States were left without options to legalize their status. So when young undocumented immigrants apply for DACA relief, they will be faced with the possible separation from their parents, who may be deported. If this happens, will there still be an opportunity for the the children and their parents to be reunited? What if a parent is already in the Philippines? What steps may be taken for the parents’ return?

Jocelyn and her 15-year-old daughter, Madeline, entered the US in 2004. Jocelyn and Madeline came to the US on a tourist visa to visit Jocelyn’s parents who are lawful permanent residents. All of Jocelyn’s siblings are green card holders. She is the only member of the family who was left in the Philippines. She was over 21 years old when her parents’ petition became current and because of this, she was not able to immigrate with the rest of the family.

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Considering that Jocelyn’s entire family resides in the US, Jocelyn decided to remain in the US and fell out of status. Jocelyn’s father had petitioned her as an unmarried child of a lawful permanent resident with Madeline as a derivative beneficiary of the petition.

Jocelyn found a job as caregiver.  She was wrongly advised to file for political asylum in order to get an employment authorization document. However, instead of an employment authorization document, Jocelyn was denied asylum and put in deportation proceedings. She was not aware that she had a hearing, and a deportation order was issued in her absence.

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During an immigration raid at the care home facility where she worked, Jocelyn was picked up for not having proper legal documents. It was discovered that Jocelyn had a pending warrant of arrest because of her final deportation order. To avoid removal, Jocelyn’s daughter Madeline availed of the immigration benefits of DACA and was allowed to stay. However, Jocelyn was sent back home to the Philippines.

Effect of deportation

Jocelyn and Madeline are now separated from each other. Madeline resides with her elderly grandparents who are struggling to take care of her. Madeline misses her mother very much and is worried about her because Jocelyn does not have any family left in the Philippines.

What steps can Jocelyn take to enable her to return to the US and be reunited with her daughter Madeline?

The separation of family members due to removal is unfortunately a very common occurrence. Family reunification for some people can be near impossible depending on the severity of the immigration violations. Family members can be separated for up to 10 years based on the unlawful presence bars.

In Jocelyn’s case, she must remain outside the US for 10 years due to her removal order.

Reuniting with a parent

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Fortunately, Jocelyn has an approved petition from her father and the priority date is now current. To overcome her issues of inadmissibility based on the removal order and her year-long unlawful presence in the US, Jocelyn may file certain waiver applications to reenter the US.

Once the visa is processed based on the approved petition, Jocelyn will be able to apply for a 212 waiver to reenter the US during the 10 year period and a 601 waiver for the misrepresentation on the asylum application. These waivers require Jocelyn to prove that her qualifying relatives will suffer “extreme hardship” if she is not permitted to reenter the US. Similarly, she will need to show the same extreme hardship to waive to her misrepresentation on the asylum application.

If Jocelyn can demonstrate the hardship to her parents, she will be able to reenter the US under her father’s petition before the 10-year ban ends. Jocelyn can show that her parents are struggling financially to support Madeline, and that Jocelyn needs to return to the US to take care of her daughter.

Mixed legal status families

There is a significant number of Filipinos living in the US whose family members have mixed legal statuses. This could means that at least one member of the family is in unlawful status. Most often, one or both parents are undocumented status and are subject to deportation.  When the deportation order is enforced, the children granted legal status are left behind by their parents on the belief that it will be for the best interest of the children to remain in the US.

When family separation happens this way, the children who are left in the US are often faced with both the trauma of being separated from their parents, and continued stress and anxiety in their everyday lives due to their own temporary immigration status.

For many children, adjusting to a disrupted family unit is not easy. Since family separation is a possible effect when parents are discovered to be without legal status, children are hesitant to take advantage of whatever temporary relief that DACA provides to them.

The best scenario is for immigration reform to grant relief not only to young undocumented immigrants but to their parents as well.

(Atty. Lourdes Santos Tancinco may be reached at [email protected] or at 7211963 or visit her website at www.tancinco.com)

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TAGS: Children, DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Deportation, Global Pinoy, IMFO, Immigrants, US
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