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Immigration Issues

Family Care Plan


Family Care Plan/Preparation Plan—for members at risk of deportation and the congregations who support them

Some Presbyterians and local community members lack lawful immigration status or are under a temporary status that may not be renewed. They live in fear of being detained and deported by immigration officials. As Presbyterians, we are led by the standards of the great ends of the church in the Book of Order, one of which, is to strive for, “the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God ...” (F-1.0304).

Journeying in Hope clip from Office of the General Assembly on Vimeo.

Individuals and families at risk of deportation face difficult decisions, decisions that are even harder to make from a place of fear. After the crucifixion of Jesus, his disciples met behind locked doors because of fear and the resurrected Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19).

Congregations can offer peace to members and friends by sitting with them, helping them explore their options, and being a part of preparing individuals for the risk inherent in a vulnerable immigration status.

Organizing to Offer Ongoing Support

This is not an event. This is the beginning or deepening of a long-term relationship between your church community and people at risk of deportation. You will become a confidant. You will be the safe keeper of sensitive information and you will be expected to act, whether it be offering care to a child or visiting someone in detention, if the time comes to act. Please enter this ministry understanding the theological underpinnings and organized to offer this ministry for the duration.

Discernment and Planning Tool for Those Facing Deportation

No option is a perfect option for a person trying to stay in the community they know and love when their immigration status places them at risk. Help a fellow member, family, or friend ideate their future. Sit with them and help them decide which of the difficult paths is right for them. Use the questions in the discernment and planning tool to break through the fear and move to the planning that needs to take place to minimize the risk. Download (PDF)

Finding Legal Representation and Maintaining Proof of Legal Representation

No one, no matter how young, no matter how vulnerable, has a right to appointed counsel in U.S. immigration proceedings. This means that most go without a lawyer in immigration court and when they are reporting to immigration officials. Congregations can be that place to find and share information about known and trusted immigration lawyers in your region. Special offerings can be taken to gather a legal defense fund. Find the lawyers in your region and get to know them. Invite them to speak at your church. Build those relationships now so that you are ready for whatever the future should bring.

Find lawyers:

Immigration Advocates Nonprofit Search Engine:

American Immigration Lawyers Association Search Engine:

Once a family decides on a lawyer, it is important that proof of that relationship is maintained so that the lawyer has access to a person and their legal files should they become detained. Formal proof of that attorney client relationship needs to be recorded in a G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney: 

Keep vital information on a Family Information Sheet

Family, health, and financial needs do not end when one becomes detained. Family information sheets contain all the information one stores in multiple documents throughout their household in one place. Having this information in one place can prepare the community supporting a person after they are detained to act quickly on a variety concerns. Keep this document somewhere safe. Download (PDF)

Custody and Care of Minor Children and Power of Attorney

Child custody is the most difficult decision any parent at risk of deportation will make. No one can make this decision for a parent, but we can be there for them as they deliberate and we can let them know where to go to make their decision legally binding. We can also help a person determine how to manage property and finances while detained and where to go to make that decision legally binding. Download (PDF)

Prepare for Raids

Whether members remain in their communities, move to other communities, or enter into sanctuary, they need to be ready in the case of an immigration raid but so do their friends and neighbors. Hence, so does the church.

The rights of the individual who is the subject of the raid

Bearing witness to the raid

Local groups are coming together to bear witness during raids. What bearing witness entails varies from one city to the next. It can include any of the following activities: recording the raid with your phone; notifying press of the raid and speaking on camera; being with the family members left behind to offer ongoing support while their family member is detained; singing; praying; taking note of ICE behavior and any civil rights violations; or acting in civil disobedience and peacefully blocking ICE agents or ICE vehicles with one’s body. It is important to be trained so that you do not unnecessarily escalate an already devastating event in the life of the immigrant that ICE is targeting. Bearing witness lets ICE and other officials know that the people they take into custody are loved in their communities. It raises their awareness of their accountability as actors in the system. It provides solidarity with the person being detained and the people that are left behind. Finally, it gathers important human rights data.

If you do not have an established local organization doing this service to the community, you can still record information about a raid that you witness and share it with United We Dream at their hotline: 1-844-363-1423.

Or you can organize your own, using this rapid response toolkit from the National Sanctuary Movement: - 

Prepare for Detention

You can empower yourself now with important information so that you are prepared should a member become detained. The Navigating Immigration Detention worksheet (PDF) can assist in planning for before detention and how to navigate the detention system once someone is detained.

The Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) is a trusted organization that hosts a national immigration detention visitation network and monitors abuses in immigration detention. They have many resources that can help communities support members at risk of detention and deportation.

To find a family member in immigration detention, use the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainee locator. Once you have the name and location of the facility, you can use this search engine to get other important information, like visitation schedules. Typically, attorneys can visit at any time and clergy can visit if they have called in advance. Others must abide by the posted schedule.