Colorlines has another story about families being ripped apart by the nation’s broken immigration system. Last November, Applied Research Center published a report, Shattered Families: The Perilous Intersection of Immigration Enforcement and the Child Welfare System, that revealed how over 5,100 children have been placed into foster care because their parents were deported. This is one of those stories — and it’s particularly wrenching:
Every morning since the first of his three boys was born in 2007, Felipe Montes would wake early and prepare breakfast for his wife and children, get his boys ready for their day, change them, feed them and when he could not arrange a ride with another family member, drive them to daycare. Then he’d go to work at a landscaping company for the next 9 hours and return home in time to cook his children dinner. “I love my kids to death,” Montes said recently. “When they were born, it’s something so wonderful you can’t explain.” Now, Montes may never see them again.
In late 2010, Montes was deported to Mexico after nine years in the United States—cuffed and loaded into a van by federal immigration officials who drove him from his hometown of Sparta in the rural North Carolina mountains to an immigration detention center.
With Felipe Montes gone, his wife Marie Montes fell on hard times. She was pregnant with their third child and was surviving on disability payments that she received each month due to illness. Without Felipe’s income and support she could not keep her family afloat. Less than two months after their baby was born, just two weeks after Felipe was loaded onto a plane and deported to Mexico, the Allegheny County child welfare department took the children from Marie and put them in foster care.
Allegheny County has already convinced a judge to end family reunification efforts with Marie Montes. She wants the children to be placed with their father. “If they can’t be with me, I want them to be with him,” she said. “Nobody is a better father than he is.”
But next week, on February 21, the county’s Department of Social Services plans to ask a judge to cease all efforts to reunify the family and put the children into adoption proceedings with foster families. Though Felipe Montes was his children’s primary caregiver before he was deported and has not been charged with neglect, the child welfare department nonetheless believes that his children, who have now been in foster care for over a year, are better off in the care of strangers than in Mexico with their father.
For Montes, this feels tantamount to kidnapping.
Mike Riggs at Reason wrote a post about Felipe Montes and his family with a title that sums it up: The Most Vile and Inhumane Immigration Story You Will Read This Week.
Watch ARC’s video: