Judge asks for home study before deciding if boy can live with undocumented relatives
Editor’s note: The names of the family members involved in this case have been omitted to protect their identities.
A court hearing on Friday went in the right direction for an immigration rights advocacy group and a family working to place a 12-year-old boy with his relatives in Ann Arbor who are undocumented immigrants.
The mother’s lawyer, Marsha Kraycir, advocated for the placement of the boy with his mother’s sister during a hearing in front of Judge Donald Shelton in Washtenaw County Circuit Court.
Shelton asked for a home study be done of the aunt’s home so he has more information with which to make a decision.
The case of the 12-year-old boy is one of two the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights is using to push for state policy that would allow foster children to be placed with undocumented relatives who are in the country illegally and could face deportation. In both instances, the parents of the children have been deported for being in the country illegally, but the children are U.S. citizens who remained behind and were placed in foster care.
The coalition’s efforts garnered attention in April when they made the cases public.
This past week, representatives from the coalition met with administrators in Lansing on the issue. The Child Advocacy Law Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School has also recently gotten involved.
Chris Asadian | AnnArbor.com
The father was deported to Mexico, and the mother has been held in a federal detainment facility in Texas for being in the country illegally.
However, the boy been visiting with his aunt in Ann Arbor on weekends.
Kraycir told the court it's the mother’s right to determine what happens with her child, and that it's the mother’s wish that the boy be placed with a relative.
Shelton questioned Kraycir’s authority in the matter, as Kraycir admitted she had not been in direct contact with her client, the boy’s mother.
The Department of Human Services does not have an official policy regarding placing children with undocumented relatives, but as a general practice have been not supportive of the measure because of the “fragile” situation into which a child would be placed.
“Immigration enforcement agencies are picking up people that are not law-abiding,” Kraycir said. “This family is law-abiding.”
The boy’s aunt was in the audience of the court hearing Friday morning -- which was a sign of her commitment to the boy, Kraycir said.
Margo Edwards, an attorney representing the father, said she hasn’t had contact with the father since he returned to Mexico.
“This isn’t about the adults, this about the child,” Shelton said. “I don’t know of any law in Michigan that says placement of child with illegal immigrants is forbidden.”
Shelton asked for DHS to conduct a home study on the aunt’s home before he makes a decision on the matter.
“It’s great that the judge wants more information on the issue,” Kraycir said.
Laura Sanders, co-founder of the WICIR, said the judge's request was a "step in the right direction."