NC judge could terminate parental rights of deported worker, put US-born sons up for adoption

NC judge could terminate parental rights of deported worker, put US-born sons up for adoption

"When immigration agents deported Felipe Montes to Mexico two years ago, his three young sons were left in the care of their mentally ill, American-born mother in a small North Carolina mountain town. Despite immigration policies that allow for the release of primary caregivers, federal authorities worked swiftly to expel Montes. Within two weeks, social workers placed the boys in foster care. Child welfare officials are now asking a judge to strip Montes of his parental rights, reasoning it's better for the children to live with strangers in the country where they were born than with their father in Mexico. Such a ruling could clear the way for their adoption. That would be unfathomable to Montes, whose only brushes with the law were a string of traffic violations. "I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't use drugs," said Montes, 32, who crossed the border illegally in 2003 to work on Christmas tree farms. "I have always taken care of my children, I have always loved them. And now, the social services people want to take away my rights and give my children away to strangers." Montes' lawyer says the father is at risk of being deemed an unfit parent solely because of his immigration status. Like thousands of deported parents whose children were taken in by the foster care system, Montes is barred from returning to visit his kids or attend court hearings on their future." - Associated Press, Mar. 9, 2012.