Thursday, March 26, 2009

Child agency blasted over immigration case

A Floridian foster care program has come under fire after they reportedly turned over an entire family to local immigration officials.

In early February, the two sons of 19-year-old Karen Arriaga had been removed from her care over allegations of neglect. Officials then asked her, her husband, and her parents to come in to see the children. It was there that authorities inquired about their immigration status and subsequently arrested them for being undocumented.

Child welfare officials claimed that they found out about Arriaga’s immigration status due to the investigation over her reported child neglect. Yet the family claimed that they were unfairly set-up and immigration advocates accused a private foster care agency of helping turn in the Arriaga family.

The incident occurred as part of the controversial 287 (g) program where local law enforcement officers are deputized to serve as federal immigration agents. According to one immigration attorney, the supposed steps taken by the foster care agency sets a dangerous precedent:
John de Leon, a Miami attorney representing both the Mexican and Guatemalan consulates, said the actions of the foster care agency will have a chilling effect on the state's ability to protect children, because migrants will hide from authorities rather than seek or accept help.

''They are putting their very mission in danger by these actions,'' de Leon said. ``Given the demographics of the state of Florida, this sends a very dangerous message. Hispanics not only live in South Florida, they live in all areas of the state and work in all areas of the state and raise families in all areas of the state.''
Image- (“Victor Arriaga's wife and daughter were separated as they visited his grandsons. One of the boys is pictured here.”)
Online Sources- New York Times,, The Latin Americanist

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