Immigrant parents who might face deportation will now be able to ensure care for their children after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Standby Guardianship bill into law Wednesday.
The bill was introduced by state Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) and state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) earlier this year to allow immigrant parents to designate a standby guardian in cases of separation, detention or deportation.
The bill passed the Assembly in March and the Senate June 20, the last day of the legislative session.
“Given the uncertainty and constant fear facing many New York families, expanding the use of Standby Guardianship will allow parents to plan for care for their children in the event of a major life disruption without relinquishing parental rights and ensure a more humane transition for children facing drastic life adjustments,” Rozic said.
Most cases of standby guardianship include conditions under which a parent has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and therefore can transfer his or her guardianship over to a specific person, according to Rozic’s office. The Standby Guardianship bill broadens current law to include “administrative separation” as a condition under which a parent could transfer guardianship.
“As reports of children being separated from their parents continue to pour out, including right here in New York, it is especially important that this legislation be enacted,” Savino said. “If Washington does not want to act, then it is up to New York and other states to lead the way and ensure that children are protected.”
Randye Retkin, of the New York Legal Assistance Group, said the Standby Guardianship Law was originally created during the 1980s AIDS crisis.
“With the latest immigration crisis, we have a humane tool for immigrant parents to make plans for their children that no parent should have to make,” Retkin said.
Deborah Axt, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, said as immigrant families in New York and across the country face unprecedented horrors, the bill affords parents a “small piece of control and peace of mind to ensure the care and safety of their children.”