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  • Women’s Refugee Commission Welcomes Parental Interests Directive

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    WASHINGTON, D.C., August 23, 2013 —The Women’s Refugee Commission welcomes the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) long-awaited and critical Parental Interests Directive, which was issued today.

    The Parental Interests Directive will not reduce the number of immigration enforcement actions taking place across the country and does not change the fact that thousands of families are separated due to our broken immigration system, but is an important step forward in the effort to protect the parental rights of those in immigration custody.  

    The directive will make it easier for detained immigrant parents to make appropriate arrangements for the care of their children, and to participate in court proceedings to determine custody of their children when possible. This will reduce the number of children who are unnecessarily placed into the child welfare system as a result of immigration enforcement actions, will help ensure that children whose parents are detained remain safe and are able to maintain communication with their parents, and will increase the likelihood that children will be reunited with their parents at the conclusion of the parents’ immigration proceedings.

    The Women's Refugee Commission has played a key leadership role in raising awareness of the need for such a policy and proposing policy solutions.

    “We have been engaging with DHS for several years to propose and promote policies that protect the parental rights of immigrants and promote the best interests of children in families caught up in immigration enforcement,” said Michelle Brané, Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice Program. “No parent should lose custody of their children simply because they are involved in immigration proceedings.”

    The Parental Interests Directive will help reduce the unintentional consequences of immigration enforcement on families caught between the immigration and child welfare systems.

    “This announcement is an important acknowledgement that immigration enforcement can be carried out in a more humane and child-friendly manner,” says Brané. “We will continue to push for laws and policies that prevent the separation of parents and children for any length of time”

    Coinciding with the Parental Interests Directive, the Women's Refugee Commission is releasing a two-page guide for detained and deported parents with child custody concerns.* This guide, which DHS will make available in all adult immigration detention facilities, provides parents with steps they can take to protect their parental rights; information on family court proceedings, parent-child visitation, and coordinating care of children; as well as helpful ICE resources for detainees.

    The release of the two-page guide precedes the publication of the Women’s Refugee Commission’s larger toolkit for immigrant parents, which will provide detailed information on how to maintain their parental rights and better understand and navigate the child welfare system.

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    Michelle Brané is available to comment at 646.717.7191.

    *The two-page guide is available in both English and Spanish on the WRC website.