Undocumented parents who have been separated from their parents at the U.S border are now worried they might lose their kids to adoption.
Araceli Ramos Bonilla was separated from her 2-year-old, Alexa, after she was arrested for illegally crossing the border into Texas. When authorities took custody of her daughter, she was told she would never see her again. Ramos was deported back to San Salvador where she told journalist, ““They want to steal my daughter!”
Ramos’ battle with a foster family over custody of Alexa shows what can happen to the more than 200 children in government custody that are not eligible for reunification or release.
A recent report from the Associated Press exposed major flaws in the system that give judges the authority to grant custody of migrant children to American families. The parents of the deported children do not even need to be notified that their kids have been adopted.
In 28 minutes, a judge in Lake Michigan granted temporary guardianship to Sherri and Kory Barr. Both Alexa’s mother and her immigration lawyer were never informed by courts about the proceedings.
Under the federal system that obtained custody of Alexa after her mother was deported, the foster parents should never have been granted temporary guardianship. However, each state’s court system has a different process for adoption proceedings.
Speaking about the guardianship of Alexa, the Justice Department said, “The Barrs obtained their temporary guardianship order in violation of federal law. U.S. prosecutors also said that by not informing Ramos or Alexa’s lawyers about the proceedings, the Barrs’ attorney and the Michigan judge also violated federal law.
Sherri and Kory Barr eventually gave up a month after their petition for guardianship of Alexa, saying the federal government had them “painted into a corner with no way out.”
Although Alexa was sent back to her mother in El Salvador, the transition from her life in America to life with her mother has been a difficult transition. Kids who have been separated from their parents at the border tend to experience emotional problems. New research also suggests that child separation can cause damage to a child’s memory.
Ramos fears for immigrant parents who are currently separated from their children. “If they give our children up for adoption without our permission, that isn’t justice,” she said. “They are our children, not theirs.”
Immigration Lawyers Serving Cleveland
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