As Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began to arrest, detain, and deport undocumented immigrants without regard to longstanding enforcement priorities, panic spread through immigrant communities. In particular, parents worried that if ICE arrested them, there would be no one to care for their children. To address this concern, the firm worked with the Rutgers Child Advocacy Clinic to create a power of attorney that would allow parents to designate alternative caregivers. While this effort helped, state law imposed significant limitations on the model document.
To overcome these limitations, the firm has once again collaborated with the Rutgers clinic to redraft the state legislation that authorizes parents to name alternative caregivers. The new bill would cover parents in a wide range of circumstances, including those facing immigration enforcement, but also those with serious illnesses, those called into active military service, and those facing incarceration, among others. The bill would authorize any of these parents to complete a power of attorney naming an adult they trust to care for their children in the event that the parent became incapacitated or unavailable, and delegating to that adult whatever powers the parent possessed and chose to delegate. For instance, a parent could allow the substitute caregiver to make decisions about the child’s education and health care, but not finances, or to travel with the child domestically, overseas, or both. The power of attorney would be valid for one year and indefinitely renewable for additional one-year periods, and the parent would not forfeit parental rights during or after the delegation but would exercise authority concurrently with the substitute caregiver.
The bill is now pending in the New Jersey Legislature, and we are hopeful that it will pass.