Skip to comments.Foster care agency faulted for calling immigration agents
Posted on 03/26/2009 11:18:41 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
Immigrant advocates are calling on Florida child welfare administrators to repudiate the actions of a private Naples foster care agency they say snatched an infant and toddler from their mother and grandparents -- and then turned the family in to immigration agents.
Advocates claim that Family Preservation, a Collier County child welfare group under contract with the Department of Children & Families, reported 19-year-old Karen Arriaga and her parents, who are undocumented migrants, to immigration agents, and then arranged for the family to be rounded up at their offices.
''Family Preservation, instead of trying to bring families together, is destroying this family, tearing it apart,'' Maria Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said at a Wednesday morning news conference.
''Who's next? Nurses? Teachers?'' asked Rodriguez.
John de Leon, a Miami attorney representing both the Mexican and Guatemalan consulates, said the actions of the foster care agency will have a chilling effect on the state's ability to protect children, because migrants will hide from authorities rather than seek or accept help.
''They are putting their very mission in danger by these actions,'' de Leon said. ``Given the demographics of the state of Florida, this sends a very dangerous message. Hispanics not only live in South Florida, they live in all areas of the state and work in all areas of the state and raise families in all areas of the state.''
Karen Arriaga's two sons, ages 1 and 2, were sheltered by DCF following a confirmed report that she had neglected them, said de Leon. In mid-February, the teen was asked to come to Family Preservation's offices for a supervised visit with the youngsters. There, de Leon said, she was detained by either Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents or the Collier County Sheriff's Office.
On Feb. 12, Karen Arriaga, who lives in Bonita Springs, was charged by the Collier County Sheriff's Office with one count of child neglect without great bodily harm, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records.
A week later, on Feb. 23, Victor Arriaga, Karen's father and a Mexican migrant, and his wife were told to report to Family Preservation's offices for a visit with their grandsons, Victor Arriaga said. The boys' grandmother, Elida Arriaga, who is from Guatemala, had the infant in her arms and was playing with him when social workers asked about the couple's immigration status.
''My wife had the child in her arms, and they took the child away from her,'' Arriaga said at the news conference. 'My wife did not want to let go of the child, but she had to let him go. The officer said, `If you don't shut up and do what we say, we will bring you to Miami, both of you.' ''
Arriaga's wife remains in federal immigration detention, said de Leon. Karen Arriaga remains in the Collier County Jail. Victor Arriaga was released by ICE, though he does not know why, he said.
Erin Gillespie, a DCF spokeswoman in Naples, flatly denies that her department, or any private agency under DCF contract, alerted immigration agents to the Arriaga family's status.
''Absolutely under no circumstances did anyone from the Department of Children & Families or our contract providers contact any immigration officials regarding this family,'' Gillespie said. ``I have spoken with the casemanagers myself, along with other people in the agency. We know for sure that no one at the agency contacted immigration.''
Gillespie acknowledges, however, that both DCF and its contractors are required to cooperate with both state and federal authorities, and do provide information to both ICE and the Collier County Sheriff's Office -- which is deputized by ICE to enforce federal immigration laws.
Caseworkers, contacted by the Sheriff's Office, most likely provided deputies with the time and place of the family's visits with the two children, Gillespie acknowledged.
''We would have to tell them,'' she said.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Families, which contracts with A Children's Network of Southwest Florida, said they are required by law to contact local authorities when a neglect case is of a criminal nature. DCF spokeswoman Erin Gillespie wouldn't elaborate on the Arriaga case except to say the alleged neglect was medical in nature. Collier County is part of a federal program, known as 287(g), that lets local police enforce federal immigration law. "That's one of the first things we do is check whether they're citizens or not. And that's the first thing we do with any case, even a routine traffic stop," said Kristi Lester, a spokeswoman with the Collier County Sheriff's Department.
Immigration advocates called the practice racial profiling. "If this was another family, a white family, they would not be asking for immigration papers,"said Maria Rodriguez, executive director of Florida Immigrant Coalition.
I can’t support taking little kids from the parents. Deport them as a group, but don’t traumatize the kids that way.
If they spoke w/ an Irish, Czech or Korean accent, I think they would be questioned about their immigration. These "immigration advocates" just love the race card. They learned it from other liberal "civil rights" groups, I'm sure.
If they want to find poster perfect cases of immigrant rights abuses, they need to look elsewhere. The mother of the child was charged with child abuse and probably end up being deported anyway if she's found guilty.
This story doest pass the smell test for some reason not many good folks would do such thing unless it was for a good reason...
Sounds like it is right out of La raza
Some of the comments so far seem to indicate we are just not “getting it” on illegal immigration. Notice it is always “immigrants” that are held, not illegals, that we have no clue who they are, what diseases they might have or what crimes they may have committed.
CPS got involved because this woman was allegedly neglecting her child(ren). This family was not divided by anyone but by the supposed actions of the mother. I resist this notion that only criminal aliens should be sent back to their countries of origin. Isn’t violating our sovereignty, entering the country illegal? Is that not a crime? What part of illegal are people not understanding?
The former Soviet Union was really stupid. They wasted so many resources trying to keep up militarily and went bust. All along, all they really needed to do was make it to Mexico and come across the border. Press 2 for Russian? :)
>>I cant support taking little kids from the parents. Deport them as a group, but dont traumatize the kids that way.
When the kids are citizens and the parents are illegals there aren’t many clean happy choices.
They are not undocumented migrants. They are illegal immigrants. And while I feel for the kids, maybe this will send a message.
I guess for me, it’s a clean choice. Unless they are in their late teens and have a reasonable plan for staying, the kids should be with their parents.
If a parent comments a crime and goes to jail, they are
separated from their children. And, it isn’t the child’s fault.
But the adult is responsible for the child’s problems.
Not the state.
I fail to see the problem here.
These illegals have more tax funded groups to whine for them than anything I’ve ever seen. Well guess what folks! Welcome to the USA where social services take kids from US citizens every day. They’re just ticked to lose their welfare jackpot babies.
“Karen Arriaga’s two sons, ages 1 and 2, were sheltered by DCF following a confirmed report that she had neglected them, “
Confirmed. Tough frijoles.
“I cant support taking little kids from the parents. Deport them as a group, but dont traumatize the kids that way.”
Did you see this line?
“Arriaga’s two sons, ages 1 and 2, were sheltered by DCF following a confirmed report that she had neglected them, “
CONFIRMED report. Surely you don’t want neglected children left with unreliable parents? Or would you rather we spend some more of your tax dollars and send them all to parenting classes...in Spanish, of course.
Just abusing the children Americans didn’t want to abuse....
According to the AP report, “Victor, who’s from Mexico and isn’t in custody, was told he wasn’t detained because he has to care for two other children.”
“Just abusing the children Americans didnt want to abuse....”
Exactly. Like we don’t have enough citizen dimwits out there pretending to be parents. And we’ve got to hire how many extra social service offices with interpreters to keep track of anchor babies and aliens? Those costs are never shown are they? Most of the jackpot babies grow up to be narcoterrorist gangbangers.
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