There are no magic words that we can use in order to be able to tell a child that his father or mother was taken away by immigration officers without causing pain and fear. Having lived this experience with a loved one I have some advice to cope with the situation.
First, you do not have to do it alone. It is very likely that you are also affected by the situation. Find someone you trust to help you in this process, either a family member or friend. Think before you speak. It is recommended that you keep in mind what you are going to say to the children. You don’t need to go into details of how the arrest was done. Something that I say to the children would be: “Dad was taken by an officer because he was missing some documents. He will not be able to return home for a while. You don’t need to worry, we already have several people helping us to try to solve this. Dad is in a safe place, he has food, he has a bed and a roof. As soon as he can, he will call us by phone. Meanwhile, we are all united and we will be fine”. Listen to the children’s questions and comments without judging them, and remember that each child has different ways of reacting. The most important thing in this process is that the children know that the adults are working to fix the situation and that they are protected by people that love them.
I repeat, there are no magic words to avoid the pain that a child’s heart feels when a situation like this happens, but there are prudent words to alleviate the pain and make them feel safe and loved.