An unusual child custody case involving a deported illegal alien has been recently resolved. The case has made headlines in Pennsylvania and across the nation, and exemplifies the difficulties that family court judges face in applying existing child custody laws to deported foreign nationals once their children have entered the American social services system. As more and more parents find themselves deported under the current immigration policies, these issues are likely to continue to arise.
The man at the center of the case is a Mexican national who fathered three sons with an American wife. The man entered the country illegally in 2004, and was deported in Oct. 2010. While here, he married an American woman and started a family. After he was deported, his wife was found to be an unfit parent. The children were removed to a foster family.
When the man attempted to regain custody of his sons, state officials objected, asserting that the family’s living conditions in Mexico were substandard. Their home relies on water that is delivered via truck, and already houses as many as six family members. However, upon hearing testimony and reviewing evidence in the case, a judge recently ruled that the man is to be reunited with his sons. He will be allowed to remain in the country for a brief ‘trial period,’ and if the court is satisfied that he is able to adequately care for the boys during that timeframe he will be allowed to return to Mexico and raise his family there.
As this case demonstrates, child custody matters involving one or more illegal alien parents can become very complicated. In such cases, family court judges have to apply existing American laws to family situations in countries with very different social structures and living conditions. For anyone who faces the loss of their child custody rights, an aggressive and well-informed legal defense is imperative. One’s right to parent is among the most significant constitutional rights afforded to Pennsylvania parents, and should be defended accordingly, no matter the nationality of the parents.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Deported dad who lost custody to be reunited with his kids,” Richard Fausset, Nov. 28, 2012