Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Adopting Out the Children of Illegal Immigrants: The Trial Starts

Today the trial commenced in the adoption battle over Encarnacion Bail Romero's son, adopted out over her objections while she was jailed for immigration charges (I've blogged about the case here and here and here and here). 

The issue is larger than this one case, as is made clear by Michelle Brane, director of Detention and Asylum at the Women's Refugee Commission:
"The real issue is if the parent wants to be deported with their child, what right do we have to say 'No, you cannot have custody of your child?' Romero's intent now is to go back home with Carlos, but he has already started a life here with another family...This is the kind of tragedy that needs to be avoided and can be avoided by doing the right thing early on and giving people access to the courts and to their children early on."
Bail Romero's parental rights were terminated by a Missouri trial judge at least in part on the grounds that she abandoned her child because she didn't make contact with him while she was in jail.  The judge apparantly doesn't recognize how difficult that could be:
Without any policies in place to regulate the care of U.S. citizen children while their parents are detained, immigrant parents are unable to attend court hearings, contact caseworkers, complete parenting classes or take any of the necessary steps to meet the strict timelines dictated by juvenile courts.

"And the result is that nobody is really recognizing that there's a parent there trying desperately to communicate that they want to still be involved with their child," said Nina Rabin, an immigration attorney with the University of Arizona's Immigration Law and Policy Institute.

It's those parents that are slipping through the cracks between two huge bureaucracies, she said.
There are also some huge factual issues unresolved in the first hearing where the judge found that the mother had abandoned the child -- she didn't attend, she didn't testify, her attorney was paid by the adoptive parents. . . .  So it will be interesting to see -- factually -- what develops in this new trial.


Reena said...

Don't we have laws regarding cruel and unusual punishment in this country?

It really seems that terminating parental rights based upon incarceration for being in the country without proper documentation is cruel and unusual. It's plum crazy!

You really have to wonder how much race is playing into this as well. If we were talking about a European (caucasion) immigrant here
illegally, would the courts have terminated their parental rights?

The adoptive parents paying for her attorney? Isn't there an ethics violoation in there somewhere?

Anonymous said...

So many issues here and clearly there needs to be thoughtful justice nd a huge step back to accurately look at all the facts. Both parties need independent legal respresentation, including the minor.

On the other hand, perhaps had she not crossed into the U.S. illegally, she would not be facing this battle.

@Reena, you asked about race; this has actually happened to illegal immigrants of other ethnic backgrounds(there just are far fewer of them as they don't have the ability to simply "cross over" and usually go through legal channels) and to American's who have traveled overseas with a foreign born spouse, who later decideds to remain in their country with their children, rendering the American parent obsolete and with few or no parental rights in the eyes of that country's legal system.

With that being said, I'm not implying that her illegal immigrant status should be the basis for losing her child, but simply that its one more sticky mess of a huge problem in this country.


theadoptedones said...

I do not think the states has the right to say that a child born in the states to a person without legal status must stay in the states. That is to put it mildly insane.

Turn that around and you have US citizens giving birth in foreign countries who bring their child home - the uproar would be hear around the world if the country the child was born in said - no - child stays here and will be adopted by one of our citizens.

Kim said...

Please keep the updates on this case coming! This issue is near to my heart because I have several friends at risk of being similarly separated from their children.

Clearly, much as we would do for children of U.S. citizens, the U.S. needs to get into the habit of contacting the families of incarcerated people so that their children can be placed with aunts/uncles/grandparents, whoever. Being in prison for identity theft does not result in termination of parental rights for U.S. citizens.

Yes, immigrants who come here illegally DO put themselves at risk for this, but her quote "nobody could help me because I don't speak English." says it all. We're not usually talking about highly-educated, English-speaking folks. They don't know how to find the resources to help their families. Some of them can't even read, since educational laws and standards in their home countries are nothing like here.

But NONE of those facts necessarily makes them unfit parents - the ONLY reason for which parental rights should be terminated.

Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie said...

"It really seems that terminating parental rights based upon incarceration for being in the country without proper documentation is cruel and unusual. It's plum crazy!"

I agree. The entitlement these ap's feel toward another woman's child who has had to endure that is even more cruel. They dehumanize that woman the way they have, yet claim to love the child in their care? Dehumanize the mother, dehumanize the child.

They care about what is best for them, noone else.