Immigration

Oregon Grandmother Petitions State Not To Remove 6-Year-Old To Mexico

| by Allison Geller

An Oregon girl in foster care will not immediately be removed to Mexico, where her father lives, the Department of Human Services decided Wednesday. 

Called “Susana,” the child’s father lives in Mexico, while her mother, an American citizen living in the United States, is a meth addict.  Susana is in the custody of the Oregon Department of Human Services, which is seeking to reunite her with her father, Alfonso Pantoja, the Statesman Journal reports.

The DHS warned Susana’s mother and grandmother that she could be sent to Mexico “at any time.”

Kerrie Lechuga, the girl’s grandmother, wrote to Oregon Sen. President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, to ask that the case be reconsidered. Courtney and two other lawmakers, Sen. Jackie Winters and Rep. Vicki Berger, R-Salem, wrote a letter to the DHS petitioning them to slow down and review all the evidence again.

“While you explained that the full record was presented to a court that has issued the order to send ‘Susana’ to Mexico, we remain concerned that all of the evidence has not been reviewed, and that this decision could be irreversible,” the letter said.

Lechuga says her granddaughter doesn’t understand that she will be moving to Mexico permanently.

"She thinks she's going to visit her dad and they'll go to Wal-Mart and have McDonald's and then she'll come home," Lechuga said. "Of course, she wants to go on the plane and do these fun things."

Warren Binford, a professor of international children’s rights at Willamette University’s College of Law and head of the child-advocacy clinic there, said that there are “so many red flags” in Susana’s case. The girl’s father has served time in the United States for assault.

“It is readily recognized that children are harmed by witnessing domestic violence, and by virtue of the fact there’s a police record that shows he exposed children to domestic violence in the past and has been found guilty of assault is deeply disturbing,” Binford said. “It makes me worry about the safety of this little girl.”

Sources: Statesman Journal