The message below went out on Thursday, August 2, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.
A family court in Missouri recently ruled that an undocumented Guatemalan woman, Encarnacion Bail Romero, “abandoned” her young son after she was picked up in an immigration raid at the poultry plant where she worked and detained for two years. Not long after being detained, the court stripped her of all legal rights as a parent and granted parental rights to a couple who ended up looking after her child. The couple even changed her son’s name. It is possible that Encarnacion may never be reunited with her son.
The recently re-introduced Help Separated Families Act would address many of the systemic barriers that Encarnacion faces by preventing parental rights from being terminated due to immigration proceedings, and by ensuring that children can be placed in the care of relatives.
Unfortunately, Encarnacion’s heart-wrenching story is an all-too-common byproduct of our country’s enforcement-only immigration tactics. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) rounds up and detains undocumented immigrants without thought to whether they have children who depend on them. Currently, there are over 5,000 children in foster care because their parents have been detained or removed from the country, and 15,000 more are expected to join the foster rolls, according to figures from the Applied Research Center. These children are at risk of being permanently separated from their families.
Dozens of interfaith organizations, including the Unitarian Universalist Association, have signed a letter to Congress asking them protect the sacred bond between parent and child by passing this bill.
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Standing on the Side of Love