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Posted on Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 12:02 p.m.

Ann Arbor immigration advocates take fight to Lansing in advance of Friday court hearing

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor-area immigration advocates are meeting with administrators in Lansing today to push for a state policy that allows foster children to be placed with undocumented relatives.

"We're trying to pursue policy here," said Laura Sanders, co-founder of the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights.

"We would like to see a policy that's modeled after the Illinois policy, which allows for the state to look at each situation case by case, and allows for undocumented relatives to be licensed to provide kinship foster care for the children," she said.

Sanders and fellow advocates heightened public attention around the issue in April when they went on the record talking about two cases in Washtenaw County in which parents were detained for being in the country illegally. In both cases, the parents fought unsuccessfully for custody of their children who were shuffled into foster care.

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Laura Sanders, one of the co-founders of the WICIR, said she's pressed the Michigan Department of Human Services and the courts on the issue and the argument she's heard back is it's "just common sense" that children shouldn't be placed in undocumented households. Here she talks with the families affected by those decisions in April.

Chris Asadian | AnnArbor.com

One of those cases involves an 11-year-old boy who has been in foster care for two years while his mother has been in a federal detainment facility in Texas for being in the country illegally.

The boy, who is a U.S. citizen living in the Ann Arbor area, has relatives in Washtenaw County who want to bring him into their homes, but they've been denied custody because of their immigration status.

WICIR has gotten the Child Advocacy Law Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School involved in the case.

State Rep. Jeff Irwin and Sen. Rebekah Warren, both Ann Arbor Democrats, have written letters to the Michigan Department of Human Services, asking officials to review the case and seriously consider placing the boy with his family.

A motion is going before Judge Donald Shelton in Washtenaw County Circuit Court at 9 a.m. Friday. The mother's attorney, Marsha Kraycir, is requesting that the judge place the boy with his aunt and uncle who are in the country illegally and live in the Ann Arbor area.

Shelton told AnnArbor.com in April there is no clear guidance in the way of federal or state policy on these matters, but he doesn't believe it makes sense to place a child with relatives who could be deported any day for being in the country illegally.

"We figure he's going to rule against it unless he's had some miraculous change of heart," Sanders said. "But that means then that we'd have some avenue for appeal."

David Akerly, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Human Services, told AnnArbor.com in April there is nothing spelled out in state policy that explicitly says the state cannot place a child with a relative who is in the country without legal permission.

However, he said, the state is required to choose and document a prospective living situation in which the relative can provide safety and stability for the child, without the likelihood of being arrested. The relative also must be willing to engage actively with service providers and the court system, and they need to have a verifiable, legal income.

"Those could be very problematic in this situation," Akerly wrote in an email. "There is a list of past criminal conviction that would preclude someone from being considered as a relative provider, but being an illegal alien is not among them. However, the reality of the situation would probably make this a less likely 'typical' situation, indeed."

Sanders put it this way: "In Michigan, there is no policy, so they're just making these decisions based on these administrators' best guesses of what to do."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at ryanstanton@annarbor.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.

Comments

jondhall

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

I get edited for saying Ilegals are illegal , give me a break Ryan !

Sue

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

Why don't they call it like it is? This isn't about advocating for "immigration", it's about helping illegal invaders to continue thumbing their noses at our legal system, protect them from facing the consequences of breaking our laws (deportation) and to get them welfare benefits which is draining our social security.

jondhall

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

Right on Sue

Sue

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

The "undocumented" relatives should be shipped back over the border from whence they came asap, then they can foster whoever they want.

Richard

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 7:22 a.m.

How is that lady helping them? She's just drawing attention to them and they will end up deported. If they want to stay in this country (illegally) they should stay away from her. What happens if the judge gives them the kid and then they get deported? If he's a citizen they can't deport him too. Its like she's setting them up for disaster by being "helpful"

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

Could we please use the correct terminology? They're "undocumented Democrats."

jondhall

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

Right on !

Ed Kimball

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

If they're not citizens, they can't vote, Republican or Democratic. And despite the claims of Gov. Scott in Florida, there are extremely few cases of non-citizens voting -- or even trying to.

terry rybak

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

Why aren't the illegal aliens in Washtenaw County being deported?

Carole

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 10:48 a.m.

I just don't get it. If one is here illegally - it is illegal. The USA has always welcomed individuals from abroad - but do it legally and be done with it. Any USA citizen who moved to another country would have to do just that.

Ed Kimball

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 3:37 p.m.

"The USA has always welcomed individuals from abroad." Really? There have been quotas against immigrants from most countries for most of our history.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 1:16 a.m.

I wouldn't be surprised if this is another chain migration related scam. Later on the children will have citizenship and be able to bring over more relatives from the old country.

Richard

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 7:26 a.m.

In rural (and even not rural) Mexico a boy becomes a man at age 13. It is not uncommon for a teenage boy to be sent to the US to work. He is hidden with groups of undocumented (or fraudulently documented) workers. Before he's caught, he's passed along to another group. Its a strong network of hardworking people trying to support their families back home.

Ed Kimball

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

If the child was born in the US, he already has citizenship under US law.

Barzoom

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:22 a.m.

Isn't a person who aids a criminal after a crime an accessory after the fact? The people who aid these illegal aliens are criminals themselves and should be prosecuted.

EyeHeartA2

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 10:57 p.m.

"cannot place a child with a relative who is in the country without legal permission." here, let me shorten that up for you: "cannot place a child with a relative who is in the country illegally" Now, isn't that clearer?

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 8:54 p.m.

I don't think the term "immigration advocate" is appropriate. These are advocates for illegal behavior. Immigrants can and do become citizens with the same rights as any other citizen.

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

"Conspirators in crime" works for me.

xmo

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 7:43 p.m.

Why not give the kid to his undocumented relatives and have them retrieve their documents? In other words, sent everybody packing! The kid is a US citizen because he was born here while his parents lived here Illegally. He is not seeking asylum, nor where his parents therefore, his citizenship should be revoked also!

Ed Kimball

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

Under current law, there are no grounds to revoke the kid's citizenship. He hasn't done anything illegal.

annarboral

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

This article is very confusing. It sounds like illegal immigrant parents have been detained in Texas. So now they want to give custody of the child to illegal immigrant relatives in Michigan? Sounds like the child is also an illegal immigrant. All of the illegal immigrants should be returned to their country of orugin (Mexico). Please update the article so there is clarity on the situation.

Judy

Mon, Mar 25, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

"Very Confusing!" That is what the President whats it to be, in the mean time legal US citizens are being taxed to "death."

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

This is a followup to a story (linked in this article) where we explained the background to this case in more detail. I added a line to the story to note he is a U.S. citizen.

harry

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

"Ann Arbor-area immigration advocates are meeting with administrators in Lansing today to push for a state policy that allows foster children to be placed with undocumented relatives." Isn't undocumented relatives just another word for illegal. Why would we give a child to a known criminal? Yes illegal immigrants are criminals

Top Cat

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

"undocumented" relatives....Is this a relative who has misplaced his documents or another word for a criminal?

Judy

Mon, Mar 25, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

"The first time an undocumented immigrant is caught in the U.S., it's a misdemeanor civil offense. Being caught a second time is a felony crime." What a joke! With all the undocumented immigrants in the U.S. ICE can has not caught them twice because the President will not let them.

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

The first time an undocumented immigrant is caught in the U.S., it's a misdemeanor civil offense. Being caught a second time is a felony crime.

pbehjatnia

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

Understandably a child should be placed with family whenever possible, but if relatives become the caregivers is the state going to pay out to the illegal aliens for the child's care?