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Report: Over 1,000 Kids in L.A. County Foster Care Have Capable Parents Who've Been Detained/Deported

Kids come second to border nuts, now?
Kids come second to border nuts, now?
Applied Research Center

Arguably two of California's most controversy-plagued government factions -- immigration enforcement and child protection -- team up for double the incompetency in today's "Shattered Families" report by the Applied Research Center.

The heartbreaking new data shows that 1,178 children in Los Angeles County alone are only in foster care because...

... their illegal-immigrant parents are caught up in deportation proceedings.

"It's one more problem," says Richard Wexler of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform. "What you've got is two hugely dysfunctional systems, and when you put them together, the results are disastrous."

There's no way to tell, for sure, whether all of these parents were otherwise capable of raising their children, but researchers found that in the vast majority of cases, the immigrants got caught in the classic Secure Communities conundrum -- deemed "criminals" for being undocumented, then prevented from taking the necessary steps to prove they're fine caregivers by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials overseeing their deportation.

For all other adults under the close supervision of the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services, due process to reclaim their children is a parental right -- but as a federal border agent actually told us at the Mexicali crossing last year, undocumented aliens have no rights in this country, including human ones.

A caseworker from Compton describes the frustration of one detained mother:

"It's kind of like a catch-22. You know, in a sense, we're asking her to do something, but we're not allowing her to do it. You know, so it's kind of like [detainees] are not in a good position."

Seth Freed Wessler, report author and principal investigator, estimates that about two-thirds of kids in the nation's child-welfare system are eventually reunited with their families. Indeed, that's always been the top priority. But Wessler says it's often not possible for immigrant families, because "ICE is being obstructionist to juvenile justice. ... Rather than moving forward with due process, deportation kicks right in."

"What's really clear to us is that many -- if not the vast majority -- of [immigrant parents] should be reunified with their children," he says.

For instance:

A california man was arrested and his babies placed in foster care because a babysitter left the children alone for less than an hour and the police were called. When he arrived home, he was arrested for child endangerment, and when his information was run through the secure communities database, he was picked up and moved to detention.

Nishith Bhatt, division chief for the Department of Children and Family Services' public affairs office, insists that "we always try to place with the family first."

But there's a more powerful bias in play. Our country "already has a huge problem with confusing poverty with neglect," says Wexler. Add that to the increasing hostility toward non-natives, and the situation has turned toxic for innocent kids.

A CPS caseworker in Los Angeles objected to what he sees as a systemic bias against placing children with their parents internationally. "Ultimately, as social workers our role is to reunify families. I'm not saying that ICE is right or wrong; what I'm saying is, let us do our job, let us reunify families. We are not here to deal with immigration; we are here to reunify children [with parents]. That's our goal and that's our job. That's what social workers do."

Not with ICE in town, they don't.

So much for Obama's big "amnesty" pledge to drop deportation orders if a person "has a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, child, or parent." Instead, we're just spending a boatload more taxpayer money keeping both adult and child under government supervision, for apparently little reason at all.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]


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