Thursday, October 1, 2020

Missouri Court to Rule on Rights of Deported Mother

This week, the Missouri Supreme Court is hearing arguments on a custody battle between a Guatemalan immigrant mother who is facing deportation and an American family who adopted her son through a private arrangement.

In the spring of 2007, Encarnacion Romero was arrested in a raid at a Missouri poultry plant.  She was arrested and charged with using false documentation.  Her infant son, a US citizen, was placed in the care of relatives.  Eventually, through a church, Seth and Melinda Moser arranged for a private adoption.

Romero, her lawyers argue, was denied due process and proper legal representation while she was in jail and the adoption was taking place.  The Mosers’ reply that even in the adoption was not handled properly, it is in the best interest of the child to leave him with them.

Previous attempts by the Moser couple to become foster parents were unsuccessful because of the father’s criminal record and a history of abuse on the mother’s side.

The case is being watched closely and has drawn international attention.  The Guatemala government has weighed in on behalf of the birth mother as have numbers of immigrant rights and child advocates. The regional director of the ACLU has said that a ruling in favor of the adoptive parents, “would set a dangerous precedent.

Further complicating the matter, Romero served time in jail for a law that the Supreme Court since has found unconstitutional.

Judge Richard Teitelman said during questioning, “The longer the case goes on, it’s a case of justice delayed is justice denied.”

The case is but one example highlighting the tragedies of a broken immigration system which is separating families. 

Francisco Villagran de Leon, the Guatemalan Ambassador to the US who is in Missouri for the hearing, argues the hearing, “is a symbol of the ongoing national and international debate about what to do with immigration policy in America.” 

He continues, “We believe this is a very unfortunate result of the problems of immigration policy in this country.  Children of undocumented immigrants should not be given up in adoption just because they are here illegally.”

Romero plans to return to Guatemala, hopefully with her son.

 St. Louis Today