§4 ch19: Special Populations – Native American and Refugee
19.5 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Issues
In the course of conducting investigations/family assessment; providing family-centered services; or providing Family-Centered Out-of-Home Care, Children’s Division staff may encounter families with various citizenship/immigration issues. This subsection presents policy and procedure for addressing citizenship/immigration issues for children entering out-of-home care including:
- Verification of the child’s identity and citizenship/immigration status;
- The notification of foreign consulates/embassies when a child is determined to be a foreign national; and
- Developing treatment and permanency plans in the Family Support Team for undocumented immigrants that are in the best interest of the child.
19.5.1 Verifying Identity and Citizenship/Immigrant Status of Children in Out-of-Home Care
According to Section 6036 of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 section 1903 of the Social Security Act the worker is required to obtain documents establishing identity and citizenship/immigration status for new applicants and recipients for all categories of Medicaid. Citizenship/immigration status is also important when the Family Support Team is considering permanency goals and treatment plans for children in out-of-home care. Citizenship/Immigrant Status include:
- U.S. Citizens (Either born a citizen or naturalized)
- Foreign Nationals with Immigrant Visas (such as lawful permanent residents (LPR) - Green Card)
- Foreign Nations with Non-Immigrant Visa’s (In the U.S. for a temporary stay)
- Undocumented Immigrants (Illegal Aliens)
For detailed instructions on documentation for identity and U.S. Citizenship, see related subject:
19.5.2 Verifying Citizenship/Immigrant Status for Adult Clients
Sometimes it is necessary to verify citizenship/immigration status of adults related to the case for the purpose of:
- Establishing the child’s citizenship/immigration status based on the parents status;
- Determining citizenship/immigration status of parents or other relatives, and if appropriate, providing them resource information to pursue change of status;
- Determining the appropriateness of relative placement options based on status; or
- Using U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or U.S. Consulate resources to assist in diligent searches for parents or other relatives.
19.5.3 Notifying Consulate/Embassy when a Child is found to be a Foreign National
If it is determined that the child(ren) is a foreign national, the worker will determine whether the consulate of the child’s country of origin should be notified that the child is in division custody. The consulate/embassy will not be contacted for every child found to be a foreign national. This decision is based on the following:
- Mandatory Consular Notification - Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) treaty or for countries with similar agreements with the United States, the division is required to notify the consulate/embassy of the child’s country of origin when a child is taken in to protective custody.
- Non-mandatory Consular Notification - When an adult is detained, who is a foreign national from a country without a consular relations agreement, the consulate/embassy is only notified if the he or she requests it and the foreign national must be informed of his right to have his/her consulate/embassy notified. The decision to notify the consulate/embassy of a minor in which the division is the legal guardian is a more complex question. (See Non-Mandatory Consulate Notification)
Mandatory Consulate Notification
The United States Department of State maintains a list of countries where consular notification is mandatory. The list is located at: http://travel.state.gov/law/consular/consular_5125.html. If the country of origin is found on the mandatory list, the worker will complete and fax a CD-146 Consulate Notification Form, to the listed Consulate/Embassy location (http://travel.state.gov/law/consular/consular_745.html#phone) nearest to the local division office. This listing provides the short-form name of the country, followed by telephone and fax numbers as currently available to the Department of State.
Once a consulate notification has been made the worker will cooperate with requests by the applicable Consulate to interview, visit and otherwise communicate with children in custody of the division who are nationals of their respective country.
Before the visit or interview is arranged, the worker will contact the child’s court-appointed attorney or guardian ad litem regarding the requests. Visits and access by the applicable Consulate and should be consistent with the best interests of the child, or as ordered by the Court.
The worker may request from the Consulate:
- Assistance with obtaining official copies of birth certificates that are certified for authenticity;
- Names of appropriate agencies within the country that can assist in:
- Identifying relatives or other placement options, and
- Conducting necessary background checks and home studies.
Non-Mandatory Consulate Notification
For adults who are foreign nationals from countries in which an agreement does not exist, the foreign national must be informed of his right to have his/her consulate/embassy notified, however the consulate/embassy is only notified if the he or she requests it. The decision to notify the consulate/embassy of a minor in which the division is the legal guardian should be approved by the Circuit Manager. The Circuit Manager may consult with Division of Legal Services if necessary. This decision should be made with consideration of the following:
- The wishes of parents;
- Input from or other relatives of the child;
- The wishes of the child depending on the child’s age and/or the child’s capacity to understand the circumstances;
- Current circumstances in the country of origin; and
- Current relationship between the United States and the Country of Origin.
If the decision is made to notify the consulate, the worker will follow the procedure in the section above titled: Mandatory Consulate Notification.
19.5.4 Undocumented Immigrants in Out-of-Home Care
If the Children’s Service Worker is unable to verify U.S. Citizenship/immigration status of a child who has entered Family-Centered Out-of-Home Care the worker will assume that the child is an undocumented immigrant or an illegal alien. The following complications can result for children in out-of-home care with undocumented immigrant status:
- Undocumented children of any age can be deported to their country of origin, even if they have been raised in the United States since infancy.
- Children who have legally entered and remained in this may be deported simply because their parents have been ordered deported. In such cases, the child may not have been aware of the parent’s status nor received notice that the parent has been ordered deported; nonetheless, the child will still be at serious risk of deportation.
- Even children who have been adopted by United States citizens are subject to deportation if their status has not been legalized prior to leaving the legal custody of the State of Missouri.
- The process to apply for an alien registration card (green card) can be a lengthy and complex. If it is not completed before the child is released from custody the child may not be permitted to complete the process. Making the most appropriate permanency decisions for the child’s as expediently as possible is critical.
If there is a question of the citizenship/immigration status of a child in out-of-home care, the Children’s Service Worker shall go through regular supervisory channels to alert the Division of Legal Services (DLS) to assist in determining the appropriateness of and procedure for ensuring that the child obtains proper documentation.
19.5.5 Family Support Team (FST) - Permanency Plans for Undocumented Child(ren)
It is critical for the Family Support Team to address citizenship/immigration issues during the treatment planning and permanency goal process for children who are undocumented immigrants. The Children’s Service Worker, the family, and other members of the family support team must evaluate whether it is more appropriate to assist the individual in seeking permanent residency, United States citizenship, or repatriation to the child’s country of origin. This decision must ultimately be made with the child’s best interests in mind based on the following considerations:
- Date of entry into the U.S. (the length of time in country and date of entry impact eligibility for benefits);
- Immigration status (impacts eligibility for legal residency);
- Cultural factors (such as language barriers; length of time in, and familiarity with this country; and degree of acculturation);
- Availability and quality of care in the U.S. versus the country of origin;
- Resources available to the individual (such as relatives willing and capable of providing assistance; government benefits; or community resources); and
- The child’s wishes.
- The wishes of the child’s parent(s), legal guardian(s) and or other relevant family members.
- The position of the child’s country of origin and the United States Government.
The Family Support Team will determine the most appropriate treatment plan and permanency goal for the child. If the goal requires an adjustment of citizenship or immigration status, the Division of Legal Services will assist the worker to assure that the proper paperwork is filed and that the proper action steps are completed. Action steps may include:
- Completion of immigration forms,
- Locating a civil surgeon to complete a physical exam,
- Collecting vital records from other states or countries, and/or
- Locating a fingerprinting site authorized by USCIS.
Related Subject: Section 4, Chapter 7.2 Family Support Team Meeting; and Section 4, Chapter 9.7.3 Criteria for Compelling Reasons Determination for Not Filing TPR include, but are not limited to: Item C
Kansas City Field Office.
9747 NW Conant Avenue
Kansas City, MO 64153
Saint Louis Field Office.
Robert A. Young Federal Building
1222 Spruce Street
Saint Louis, MO 63103
Overseas Office Locator - Overseas Offices provide limited services to U.S. Citizens, permanent residents of the U.S. and certain other persons who are visiting or residing outside the United States who need assistance in immigration matters.