30 March 2011

De facto deportation and termination of parental rights downgraded to "possible communications mix-up"

A follow-up: four-year-old Emily Ruiz, an American citizen who was de facto deported because of the immigration status of her parents about three weeks ago, has been reunited with her family after being treated to a first-class plane trip from Guatemala back to her home in the U.S. (CNN).

When officials prevented Emily's father from reuniting with her and took custody of her, they effectively terminated his parental rights, without cause and without a hearing. Abuse, neglect, incapacitating substance abuse, abandonment, mental illness, conviction of a violent felony, etc., are grounds for terminating parental rights. Failure to adjust status is not. The Customs and Border Protection officials who did not clearly communicate with Emily's father, and the state officials who were ready to take Emily into custody, should be ashamed of themselves -- and more than that, they should see a § 1983 suit filed against them ASAP. One for Emily's father, and one for herself -- deportation is a judicial action against a non-citizen who's committed a crime, not a punishment for an American pre-school girl coming home to the U.S. after visiting the grandparents abroad.

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