This is the third in my series on ways immigrants can prepare for ICE raids. This one focuses on the use of the Power of Attorney form to allow the family of a person detained by ICE to access his or her financial accounts.
I find there is a lot of confusion about what a Power of Attorney is. Some people have come to me who want to fill one out so that another person can be the guardian of their child. I have to explain that the Power of Attorney is not a guardianship, which can only be created by a Family Court, nor is it an authorization to enroll the immigrant’s child in school or take the child to the doctor, which is done through the Designation of Person in Parental Relationship Form, a form I discussed last week.
The Power of Attorney form may be useful to some immigrants facing arrest by ICE because it can be used to allow a trusted friend or family member to access the at-risk person’s bank account. On the other hand, if the undocumented immigrant does not have a bank account in the United States or other substantial financial assets, there is little reason for the person to fill out a Power of Attorney form.
I also find that there is confusion because of the name of the form. Someone does not need to be an attorney to be given the Power of Attorney.
There is also danger in giving someone the Power of Attorney. The person granted Power of Attorney can withdraw money from the immigrant’s bank account without further permission. Also, while the immigrant can withdraw the Power of Attorney at any time, unless the immigrant notifies their bank, they may find the person they granted the Power of Attorney to still using it. There have been a number of cases of people granted Power of Attorney who have stolen money from the immigrant who gave them that power.
You should only give Power of Attorney if you have finances that need to be managed if you are arrested, and only to an extremely trustworthy person in order to take care of your finances. When you grant a Power of Attorney, you are giving someone the key to your safe.
Click here for a free copy of the Power of Attorney form.