Finally, Justice for Felipe Montes

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary In a previous article, I had written about the case of Felipe Montes. He came as an undocumented immigrant to the United States and eventually settled in Allegheny County in North Carolina. He married a U.S. citizen named Marie and they had three children. As I had asked in the previous article, it is impossible to understand why Montes himself could not become a legal permanent resident since he married an American. I will not go into that. What I will mention is what happened to Montes in October of 2010. One morning, while he was driving, he was stopped and arrested by local police for not having a driver’s license. Since he was undocumented he could not obtain one. However, he had no choice but to drive since he was the only provider for his family because his wife was in ill health. When he went to court to pay for the ticket, he was met by two immigration officials who took him away.

On December 3, 2010, he was deported back to Mexico. Despite his treatment, he was more concerned about what would happen to his wife and children. The Allegheny County Department of Social Services took away Marie Montes’ three children because her health had deteriorated and placed the children in foster care. They had not consulted with Felipe Montes about this, and the Allegheny Department of Social Services wanted to have the children adopted by American couples because they said that Felipe Montes had “lost his parental rights when he was deported.” Fortunately Felipe Montes was not about to give-up on his children, and he fought the best way he could through American lawyers. Finally, a state court ruled in Montes’ favor, and he can now regain his three children. Hopefully his wife Marie will be able to join him in Mexico if her health improves.

In this case, justice has prevailed, and I hope the family is completely reunited. The same cannot be said for so many tens of thousands of families in a similar predicament. There are so many undocumented mothers and fathers who are losing their children to state and federal laws because quite simply they are undocumented. In my view, this is a travesty of justice—no parent who is fit, good and loving to their children should ever lose their parental rights because of their immigration status. How would American citizens like to lose their children in another country because some government declared them “unfit?” This double standard in the U.S. immigration system only makes the United States looks bad. Something has to be done to get rid of this discriminatory provision. This may have to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court for a resolution.

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