The New York Times has a poignant piece about family separation today, separation that is occurring as a result of our broken immigration system. It details the story of Encarnación Bail Romero, a mother who was locked up after an immigration raid in Carthage, Missouri, and her two year old son, Carlos:
“My parents were poor, and they never gave me to anyone,” Ms. Bail recalled. “I was not going to give my son to anyone either.”
An adoption petition arrived at the jail a few weeks later. Ms. Bail, who cannot read Spanish, much less English, said she had a cellmate from Mexico translate. With the help of a guard and an English-speaking Guatemalan visitor, Ms. Bail wrote a response to the court.
“I do not want my son to be adopted by anyone,” she scrawled on a sheet of notebook paper on Oct. 28, 2007. “I would prefer that he be placed in foster care until I am not in jail any longer. I would like to have visitation with my son.”
For the next 10 months, she said, she had no communication with the court. During that time, Judge Dally appointed a lawyer for Ms. Bail, but later removed him from the case after he pleaded guilty to charges of domestic violence.
Carlos was adopted by an American family, despite his mother’s wishes, and Encarnación has been deported to her native Guatemala. A lawyer who commented on the case said that, “in many cases, what state courts want to do ‘conflicts with what federal immigration agencies are supposed to do.'”
The immigration lawyer, Christopher Huck, argued:
“Then things spiral out of control,” Mr. Huck added, “and it ends up in these real unfortunate situations.”
Cases like those of Carlos and his mother shed light on just how dire the situation has become for many families in our country, as well as the pressing need for real reform of our immigration system.