A Father’s Love for His Children

By: Daniel Nardini

This case is not only about injustice, but of a father’s fight for his children. The case revolves around a man named Felipe Montes. Born and raised in Mexico, he came to the United States as an undocumented person looking for work. He eventually settled in Allegheny County in North Carolina. He met and fell in love with an American named Marie. They were married and have three children. By law Felipe Montes should have been granted legal permanent residence. Because of how messed up U.S. immigration laws are he never received these papers. This also led to another problem he had—being unable to secure a driver’s license. However, he needed to work and provide for his family because his wife Marie was a disabled person and unable to provide for her family.

Because he had no driver’s license, Felipe received many traffic violations from the North Carolina police. In an attempt to try and settle these accounts and plead his case before a state judge, Felipe went to court. What he did not know was that two U.S. immigration agents were waiting for him. They handcuffed him and took him away. He was not allowed to say anything to his wife and children. Felipe was taken to a U.S. immigration detention in Georgia and then forcibly deported to Mexico. That is where he has been since. The case only gets worse. His wife Marie, unable to provide for her children because of her disability, had her children taken away by North Carolina child protection. The state has now put them up for adoption. Felipe Montes, now stuck in Mexico, is not going to let the state take away his children.

Through a law agency in North Carolina, Montes is fighting to have his children back. Both the state and U.S. immigration are arguing that Montes should lose his right to his children because he was an “illegal” and that Mexico is “poor” and “has no running water.” I find what both the state government in North Carolina and U.S. immigration are doing to be sick, cynical and despicable. First, Montes should have been allowed to have legal papers because he married a U.S. citizen. Second, he should have had a North Carolina driver’s license so he could properly care for his family and he would not have had all of the trouble he is having now. Most important of all, neither the federal nor the State of North Carolina have the right to terminate Felipe Montes’ parental rights simply on the basis of being “illegally” in the country.

Montes was a very loving parent and father, and he very much cared for his children. But because he was an undocumented person he is now forcibly having his parental rights being taken from him along with his children. His is not the first case like this. In fact, more than 5,000 children who had been forcibly separated from their undocumented parents or in U.S. immigration custody are now in adoptive homes. The parents of these children were never given the chance to contest unilateral decisions made by U.S. immigration or any of the state governments, and because of their undocumented status these people were declared “unfit” to be parents. I find this logic to be legal barbarism, and a complete reversal of how the U.S. judicial system works. No parent, if that parent has proven to be a truly loving and caring person, should ever lose their child(ren) because of an inhumanity in the dispensation of the law.

The U.S. government should realize that this forcible separation of children from their families will have a truly negative impact on Americans, legal or undocumented, living in other countries. How would we like it if other governments took it into their minds to forcibly separate the children of American families? Whatever arguments U.S. immigration and any U.S. state government can make as to why an undocumented person should lose their parental rights, I can make 100 why those rights should never be taken away. Like so many undocumented families, I only hope that the Montes family will not lose their precious children.

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