When that knock comes at the door of an undocumented person, it's too late to start making a plan.
"You will leave here basically with only what's on your back," Susan Cruz explains to families fearing deportation.
Cruz was born in El Salvador and founded Sin Fronteras, a non-profit that helps young immigrants in conflict with the law. US immigration agents in Texas, Georgia and South Carolina this week launched a campaign to detain and deport a number of undocumented immigrants..
About 120 individuals have been deported so far — many of them women and children.
Cruz encourages the undocumented to take three simple steps — and to take them now.
- Find someone you trust to make decisions for you in case you are detained or deported. Usually this is a family member.
- Put your choice in writing so that Child Protective Services or a court can talk to someone regarding your children's future in your absence. Have the letter notarized with the chosen guardian present. Ultimately the family court judge will make a decision regardless of what the document says, but a letter will make it easier for social workers to identify an individual they can consult with about the welfare of children involved.
- Assemble copies or originals of documents including passports, school IDs, birth certificates and put these papers in an envelope or folder in an easily accessible place, like a kitchen drawer.
"If and when somebody shows up to the home to notify children that their parent has been detained by immigration or that something has happened to their parent, the child can just pull this envelope out and hand it over to the police or to the social worker that arrives to the home," Cruz says.
Cruz also suggest this resource for creating a Family Safety Plan.