Stories about families struggling with immigration issues in Florida can be especially devastating for the children involved, who in many cases were born in the United States and know no other home. What is frustrating for so many of these families is that most of the time immigration authorities are involved in the destruction of families in favor of immigration laws rather than family law. Family law predominantly dictates that the courts make decisions regarding children based on what is in their best interest, not what is in the best interest of some other area of law.
Such is the case of three boys whose father was deported to his native Mexico in 2010. He was the primary caretaker for his boys and provided the only financial support for the family. The mother of the boys is an American citizen however she suffers from mental health issues. As a result of her problems she is unable to care for the boys alone, or work to support them.
A court-appointed attorney for the father said he longs to be reunited with his sons and wants to raise them in Mexico. The three boys have been under the care of two separate foster families who have requested to formally adopt them. The problem is the father has not willingly given up custody of his children or agreed to cease contact with them. He has also not been accused of mistreating them or of being an unfit parent.
Because the father has been deported he apparently has very little rights with respect to custody of his U.S. children. A recent report outlines the numerous legal obstacles parents have in asserting their parental rights when he or she is either deported or in the process of being deported and has been detained by ICE.
This family is simply caught between the nation’s every-changing immigration enforcement policies and conflicting family law. And, unfortunately, this family’s situation is not unique. Last year alone there were 5,100 or more children in foster care situations across the United States due to one or both parents being detained or deported by immigration officials, according to a report by Applied Research Center, which is a think tank that researches issues surrounding racial justice.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Deported Parents Lose Custody Of Kids Left Behind in U.S.” Janell Ross, June 19, 2012