Trump’s Immigration Plan Could Send More Kids into Foster Care

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By Becky FogelDecember 29, 2016 11:15 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Some advocates are worried if President-Elect Donald Trump makes good on his campaign promise of mass deportations that could lead to more children ending up in the foster care system.

Texas Standard web producer Beth Cortez-Neavel took a look at this issue for the Chronicle of Social Change, a news site focused on child welfare. She says some estimates have found that one-third of the immigrants deported from the United States have American-born children – but just because a person is deported doesn’t mean they lose parental rights.

“If a parent makes arrangements for their deportation, if they plan ahead, and think this is a possibility – they might arrange for the kid to stay with a family member that’s in the U.S., they might have friends that are willing to take the child,”Cortez-Neavel says. “So in that case, the child would go with that family, and CPS wouldn’t be involved at all.”

The real problem is when the child doesn’t have anywhere to go. That’s when Child Protective Services gets called in.

“And if they can’t find the parent then the child is placed in foster care,” she says. “So in this way, there are some cases in the foster care system throughout the states of children going into the foster care system because their parent is deported.”

Cortez-Neavel reached out to border states including Texas, Arizona, California, and New Mexico to see if they were tracking this specific population of children in their foster care systems – they weren’t, but there are some estimates from 2011.

“[Estimates] say 5,100 kids like this are in the foster care system across the U.S. – and then they estimated that between 2011 and 2016 there would be 15,000 more kids going into the foster care system like that,” she says. 

There isn’t exact information out there about the number of children who end up in the foster care system because their parents are deported. But advocates do have a solid idea of how an event like this can affect a child’s mental and physical health.

“Just the idea that a kid who has an undocumented parent could lose their parents creates this atmosphere of fear around that child which can also be very traumatic,” she says. 

Even though Trump has yet to take office, advocates are already preparing for this population of kids in the foster care system to grow. 

The federal judge who ruled the state’s foster care system unconstitutional in 2015 says child protection officials have failed to comply with her year-old order.

That order prohibited foster children from being placed in group homes that don’t provide 24-hour supervision. The Corpus Christi judge said this week Texas officials “incorrectly interpreted” her directive – only applying it to future placements when it applied to all of them.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas has gotten more of his bills passed into law over the last two years than any of his colleagues. The grand total for the second-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate? Eight.

You can read more about the bills Senator Cornyn has gotten passed at the Dallas Morning News.