Peter Smith, reporter on religions for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, describes a legal clinic sponsored by Casa San Jose to help undocumented parents, whose children may be U. S. citizens, make decisions about guardianship for their minor children in the event the parents are detained or deported by immigration officials.
Brenda Solkez of Wilkinsburg, a U. S. citizen born in Mexico, volunteered to care for as many as seven children if needed. She said, “It should not be happening. “Parents should not be separated from their kids. A kid should not be seeing their parents sign these kinds of powers to someone they don’t really know. Parents should not be giving their most precious belongings away.”
In most cases, he said, the parents would want to have the children join them in their home country if they are deported.
But he said many of the parents fled in the first place for fear for their safety because of such factors as high crime. That leaves them with an excruciating choice if they get deported: Bring their children back to a dangerous situation or have them grow up without their parents.
At the legal clinic, Christian Minor, a bilingual attorney who provide his services pro bono, helped about 10 sets of parents, mainly from Mexico or Central American countries, signed documents assigning guardianship and power of attorney to various legal residents of the United States to care for their children in the event they are detained for deportation.
In most cases, parents would want to have the children join them in their home country if they are deported. But many of the parents do not feel that their home countries would be a safe environment for their children because of such factors as high crime and gang activity. leaves them with an excruciating choice if they get deported: Bring their children. To put their children in a dangerous situation or to separate and have them grow up without their parents is a terrible choice for parents to have to make.
“You can sense the fear in the community, that people don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Mr. Minor. “Hopefully we don’t have to use any of the documents and the families can stay together,” he said.
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The editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette examines the issue of guardianship for children of undocumented immigrants. Casa San Jose has provided legal assistance to more than ten sets of parents who have designated Pittsburghers as the legal guardians for their children in case the parents are detained or deported.
The editorial stresses the serious responsibility of caring for someone else’s child and the importance of sheltering children from the effects of political controversies over immigration issues.According to the editorial board, “this is fitting work in the city that was home to Fred Rogers, whose concern for children knew no bounds.”
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