The State of Michigan will soon begin advertising for adoption three children of an undocumented Guatemalan father. There’s been no finding of unfitness on his part, but, because he’s been deported, the state refuses to return his children to him. Read about it here (Ann Arbor News, 5/12/12).
Barely two weeks ago I reported on a Mexican father in almost exactly the same situation in Idaho. He’d worked in the U.S. without papers and was deported. His child stayed with her mother until she was determined to be unfit by the state’s child welfare agency. He attempted to return to the U.S. to take care of his daughter, but was apprehended and once again returned to Mexico. Meanwhile, someone in the child welfare agency decided he/she was going to adopt the little girl, i.e. the agency had become a broker of children for adoption. But sensibly, the Idaho Supreme Court put a stop to that, pointing out that (a) he has constitutionally protected parental rights and (b) the agency’s role in providing a child for one of its own employees to adopt was just too blatant an abuse of its power. The man got his child back.
But not so in the Michigan case. There the father worked in Michigan, was deported, but returned when his three children’s mother died. The children were split up by the state Department of Human Services, the daughter went to one foster family that intends to adopt her, but the two brothers are with another family that cannot adopt them, a fact the boys don’t yet know. When the dad presented himself to try to regain custody of his kids, he was once again apprehended and placed in detention.
The man had presented himself to the county’s foster system last year to regain custody of his children. He soon came under government scrutiny – and was picked up by immigration.
He sat in detention for about a year before he relinquished his parental rights in March in front of a judge, according to Laura Sanders, co-founder of the WICIF.
Returning to the country as an illegal immigrant after being deported is a felony offense.
Got that? They held him in detention until he relinquished his rights; then they sent him home. They could have kept him in prison because he’d committed a felony, but they didn’t. In other words, they offered him a deal – give up your children and we’ll let you go; continue trying to get custody of them and we’ll send you to prison and you’ll lose them anyway. Nice.
So there’s not much the father can do at this point. He’s relinquished his rights and has no chance of ever caring for his children again. The case has garnered considerable attention among the Spanish-speaking community and will be the subject of a documentary on Univision later in the month.
The case stands at the collision point between parent’s rights and immigration law and it’s no surprise that, when the parent is a father, immigration law wins over fathers’ rights. Keep in mind that several decades of Supreme Court precedent hold that states may not deprive parents of parental rights absent a showing of unfitness, but that’s exactly what happened here. No one questions the dad’s ability to parent his children or his desire to do so. And of course the children could have been sent to live with him in Guatemala, but for some reason they weren’t. No one is letting on about what that reason is, but Laura Sanders, head of the Washetenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights seems to have hit on something.
Laura Sanders, one of the co-founders of the WICIR, said she’s pressed the Michigan Department of Human Services and the courts on the issue and the argument she’s heard back is it’s “just common sense” that children shouldn’t be placed in undocumented households.
Really? Why is that “just common sense?” Parents without papers can’t care for their children? They might get deported, so keeping the family together would mean deporting the children too? I guess I’m lacking in common sense, because I don’t get it.
What it looks like from here is part of the adoption racket. There’s a large market for adoptable children and in case after case, CPS looks more than willing to help with the supply side of that market. In the Idaho case, that’s exactly what happened and in truth it happens time and again. Indeed, the article reports that currently in Michigan alone, there are some 5,100 children of deported immigrants awaiting adoption. That’s quite a racket, the only problem being that there aren’t nearly enough adoptive parents for all the kids who really don’t have parents. So adding to the supply of children doesn’t help. And adding to the supply of children by taking them from fit parents for no apparent reason is, if not criminal, ought to be.