Moments of high anxiety for deported dad on custody quest local news tucson.com heartburn symptoms treatment

While the numbers have not significantly climbed since the Trump administration promised to crack down on illegal immigration, some think it’s only a matter of time. Immigration arrests are up nationwide, often of people who have lived here for years and are more likely to have U.S. citizen children. There’s no way to tell how many of these children end up in foster care.

We know from past experience that increased immigration enforcement puts families and whole communities under incredible emotional, financial, and structural stress, said Emily Butera of the Women’s Refugee Commission, a nonprofit group based in New York that advocates for detained or deported parents to be reunited with their children.

The Trump administration’s targeting of undocumented and mixed-status families shows no signs of abating, so we fear that childcare arrangements may begin to collapse, leaving children in unsafe or unstable situations that can lead to child welfare involvement and threats to parental rights,” Butera said.


Most of the deported parents who arrive in Nogales, Sonora, say they’ve left their children in the U.S. with the other parent or a caregiver. But often their kids are not in stable, long-term arrangements and problems may arise later, said Joanna Williams of the Kino Border Initiative, a Jesuit binational migrant aid organization.

“With the dad being deported, we are seeing a number of cases where there’s anxiety in the long-term about the financial impact of their deportation, which makes it very difficult for the parent to take care of their kids,” she said. “Wives, girlfriends struggling to provide, and the anxiety of DCS stepping in and taking custody of their children.”

While there’s more awareness in places like Southern Arizona of the need for contingency plans in case of a deportation, Williams said most she talks with at the border don’t have one. Since 2016, the center has seen a 118-percent rise in people receiving assistance who reported being separated from their children — 981 from January through November 2017.

Most states, including Arizona, lack policies to work with transnational families. That can result in children staying longer in foster care — costing the state more money — and parents disappearing and losing their rights when no one knows how to find them.

Days later, Quiroz was offered services in his home as long as the mother didn’t have unsupervised visits. Workers determined he had a job to support his family, he was clean, willing to work hard and was a good support for the mother, according to his case file.

In order to avoid spending years in jail and risk losing custody of now two sons — the youngest had just been born — Quiroz pleaded guilty to one of the assault charges, he said. He spent six months at the Maricopa County jail and four more in immigration detention.

By January 2016, the state moved to terminate parental rights. The case cited the mother’s addiction despite all the services provided and said Quiroz “failed to maintain regular contact with the children, paid no support, sent no cards, gifts or letters … since his incarceration.”

The longer that people are in detention, the more likely it is that their parental rights will be terminated given current severance statutes, said Rebecca Curtiss, staff attorney with the Arizona-based Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project. So often, detained parents find themselves considering whether or not to accept removal to their home country just so that they can advocate to have their children returned to them.

A caseworker or a judge might not feel comfortable sending a U.S. citizen to Mexico, or placing a child with people not legally in the country, or be unclear if state law allows them to work with families without reporting them to immigration authorities.

After Quiroz was deported, he found support in the Mexican child welfare department in Nogales, which guided him through DCS’ requests. Workers in the Mexican consulate helped make sure he saw his children again. And in Arizona, the children’s foster parents were willing to go the extra mile when they saw he genuinely wanted to reconnect with his sons.

A judge granted him visits with his children in January 2017, but DCS officials kept asking for extensions because they couldn’t figure out the paperwork, the foster parents said. The foster parents worked with him and the consulate to figure out what they needed to do to make sure the children could travel to see their father.

“DCS is so overwhelmed and there’s so much red tape to get certain documents on the children that it takes forever, said the children’s former foster mother . She asked that her name not be used because she and her husband continue to foster children and don’t want to affect other cases.

The case worker said she didn’t know how to work a cross-border case because she hadn’t done it before, the foster parents said. It required a lot of research — calling the court, lawyers, caseworkers and customs — to make sure the foster parents could bring the boys back across the border because the children didn’t have IDs. Children are now with him

During the boys’ first visit to the child welfare offices in Nogales, Sonora, in June, the oldest recognized his father immediately, running towards him and yelling, ‘’Daddy!’’ But the youngest one whom he hadn’t met, clung to his foster father’s leg until Quiroz took out an Oreo cookie.

Now, Quiroz fixes his sons’ breakfast — an egg and cheese sandwich on toast is a favorite. He asks if they want to watch Mickey Mouse, their favorite cartoon, and teaches them Spanish. They know how to say lluvia (rain), tengo hambre (I’m hungry) and hermano (brother), although their preferred language is still English.

Until Quiroz has full custody, he can’t fully integrate his children into life in Mexico. The birth certificate for his youngest son still lacks Quiroz’s name; he can’t apply for their Mexican nationality and enroll them in services. They can’t move away from the border, perhaps somewhere less expensive and safer.

This agency would like to commend you on the level of commitment you have displayed toward regaining care and custody of your children, ensuring your children are safe and have stable housing, ensuring that your children have all their needs met, and ensuring the children are safe and appropriately supervised at all times, it read.