Undocumented Immigrants in City Make Arrangements for Children if Deported

Many undocumented immigrants in the city who have American-born children are scrambling to make arrangements for their kids in case they suddenly face deportation. Queens Reporter Ruschell Boone has the story.

Her two sons are a handful, but Gisele Davila is ready for another big responsibility: legal guardianship of her 5- and 11-year-old niece and nephew if their parents are deported.

The niece and nephew are Americans, but their parents are undocumented immigrants from Ecuador, and fear being deported under President Trump's tough new immigration policies.

"It's not easy, but I cannot say no," Davila said. "I said, 'OK I'll do it, I will try to do my best.'"

Davila says it's not just her brother-and-law and his wife who are fearful.

"The little girl, she's always crying," Davila said.

About 500,000 undocumented immigrants live in New York, and many are on edge, especially those who have American-born children with U.S. citizenship.

"In the decades-plus that I have been doing this, I've never seen fear quite to this level," said Camille Mackler of the New York Immigration Coalition.

That fear is playing out in different ways. One woman came to Queens from Ecuador 15 years ago, and never obtained legal residency.

She let NY1 join her on a visit to Ecuador's consulate but asked that we hide her identity.

"The situation with the new administration worries us a lot," the woman said through a translator. "If something were to happen to us, we have to be ready for it."

Her daughter was born in the U.S., but she is entitled to an Ecuadorian passport because of her mother's nationality.

The consulate trip is to get one so she could travel to and from Ecuador if her mother is deported.

It's a common story at Latin American consulates in New York, like Ecuador's on Roosevelt Ave., where lines have been out the door, and Mexico's consulate in Manhattan.

"There has been an increase of about 30 percent in people trying to get services," said Gerardo Izzo, a spokesperson for the New York Consulate of Mexico.

"For those who have children, who have families, who have businesses — yeah, I mean, they are really thinking that, in the blink of an eye, it could be taken away from them, and they want to prepare," Mackler said.

Those preparations include arranging guardianships. Parents outside a school in Corona say the issue comes up often.

Davila: Some of my kids' friends' at school parents.

Boone: Are asking other parents if they could take their children if they are deported?

Davila: Yes.

Davila says she hopes it will never come to that, but if it does, her family is ready.

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