Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Group Files for ICE Data on Georgia Deportations

FOIA Request to Shine Light on Georgia Police/ICE collaboration viaSecure Communities and 287(g)

ATLANTA, GA - The Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), the ACLU Foundation of Georgia, and the National Day Labor Organizing Network will file a Freedom of Information Act request with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for previously unavailable data related to the relationship between local law enforcement agencies across the state and the deportation of Georgia residents by ICE.

GLAHR cites the climate of hostility created by HB87 and the recent statewide activation of the federal deportation program, Secure Communities, for contributing to the recent ICE data indicating that the ICE Atlanta region (including GA, NC, and SC) deports nearly double the rate of parents of US citizens than any other region in the country.

Current immigration laws are creating a foster care crisis. For the Mendez family, that crisis has become a reality. Ovidio and Domitina Mendez have had their parental rights terminated by a Georgia Judge and many believe its because the couple only speaks Spanish.

As Ovidio and Domitina Mendez drove back from their children's medical appointment, they noticed police cars parked outside their house.

As soon as they got out of their car, they were told through a Spanish interpreter that the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services was there to take their four children.

DFCS workers had visited the Mendez family two weeks earlier in July 2008 to investigate how the Guatemala natives and their U.S.-born children, who have severe disabilities, were living.

As the number of U.S. immigrant detentions and deportations increases, researchers expect the number of children in foster care will rise, as well.

A recent study by the Applied Research Center revealed that at least 5,100 children are languishing in America’s foster care system because their immigrant parents were detained or deported. But the report also found that even when undocumented parents are not detained or deported, they face bias in the child welfare system as a result of cultural and language discrimination.

For instance, at the June hearing that terminated the Mendez’s parental rights, they were peppered with seemingly irrelevant questions about their English-speaking ability and immigration status. “Describe for the court why even three years after [the children went into the state’s custody] you cannot speak English without an interpreter,” asked Bruce Kling, special assistant attorney general for Whitfield County Department of Family and Children’s Service.

The state also argued that the Mendezes’ should not regain custody because, as undocumented immigrants, they could not attain driver’s licenses and therefore couldn’t transport their children. ARC found that many county child welfare departments give this justification for why undocumented parents can’t be trusted as caregivers.

The suggestion that undocumented immigrants are unfit parents (usually for reasons related to their poverty) is often used to separate them from their children. But children then remain in foster care because of the barriers that undocumented mothers and fathers face in trying to regain custody. Parents’ undocumented status also works against them by preventing them from accessing state services that would enable them to better provide for their children.

Many ask: How increasing foster care subsidy by taxpayers will help to cut deficits in the budget? Makes no fiscally responsible sense.

On the other hand
Lawmakers and citizens react to the death of Texas high schooler, Joaquin Luna, who committed suicide, distraught over his illegal immigrant status that prevented him from attending college.

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