We will fight for peace, but we will do no violence.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

IMMIGRATION: U.S.-born kids lose rights in Mexico



Because of the byzantine rules of Mexican and U.S. bureaucracies, tens of thousands of children now find themselves without access to basic services in Mexico — unable to officially register in school or sign up for health care at public hospitals and clinics that give free check-ups and medicines.

One by one, the parents tell government workers their stories: First, they crossed illegally into the United States for work, found jobs, and had children. Then, they were caught and deported, or left on their own as the work dried up with the U.S. economic slump. Now they are back in Mexico with children who are American citizens by virtue of being born on U.S. soil.

 At issue is a Mexican government requirement that any official document from another country be certified inside that country with a seal known as an "apostille," then be translated by a certified, and often expensive, translator in Mexico.

It's a growing problem in Mexico as hundreds of thousands return home because of the sluggish U.S. job market and a record number of deportations. Illegal migration of Mexicans to the U.S. is at its lowest level in decades, with more Mexicans now leaving the United States than entering it each year.

More than 300,000 U.S.-born children have been brought to Mexico since 2005, out of a total of 1.4 million people who moved back from the U.S. during that period, according to the Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center.

The number of U.S.-citizen children living in Mexico with at least one Mexican parent reached 500,000 in 2011, according to one demographic study.

Many of the Mexican parents of U.S. children were not aware of Mexico's paperwork requirement before they came back, so now tens of thousands are struggling to get their children's documents to the United States to be certified, and then returned to Mexico to be officially translated.

They get little help from the Mexican government....
"The government doesn't care about what happens to the people who are coming back," said Maria del Rosario Leyva, who came back with her two U.S.-born children, a 3-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl, from Santa Ana last year after their father was deported.

 She and other returnees have gone to schools and to education offices seeking to enroll their children. Some were sent to Malinalco's records office, which suggested they hire a lawyer.
Many parents don't understand what administrators and clerks tell them. Official procedures are often confusing even for college-educated Mexicans. Misconceptions are widespread: Hernandez said he'd heard from other families that if he didn't get the children's documents stamped, U.S. officials could take the youngsters from him, even in Mexico.

"The mothers have come to us for help after multiple frustrations," said Ellen Calmus, director of the Corner Project. "I've literally had a series of mothers in tears coming to the office."

A majority of migrants' American-born children stay in the U.S. with relatives, or are taken into state foster care after their parents are arrested for crimes. Demographers say only about 10 to 15 percent of the U.S.-born youngsters are taken to Mexico.


"These are children who are kind of stateless in both countries," said Hirokazu Yoshikawa, academic dean at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and author of "Immigrants Raising Citizens: Undocumented Parents and Their Young Children."

"Each generation is undocumented in one country," he said.


In Washington, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said that the U.S. government worries about U.S.-born offspring of migrants. "Where are the children? What's going on with the children?" she said in an interview with The Arizona Republic newspaper.


Leyva said her U.S.-citizen children will not stay in Mexico beyond childhood...Her eyes moistened as she told of how they often ask when they will return to the United States.


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