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Illegal immigrants face the risk of losing custody rights

Immigrants come to American for a wide range of reasons, many of which are not so different from those that brought our own ancestors to these shores. Employment opportunities, freedom from religious persecution and participation in an established economic system are all motivating factors that prompt a steady flow of immigrants, both legal and illegal, to settle in Massachusetts and other states. However, for those who have their families while in our country, their custody rights could be called into question.

A recent child custody case illuminates the unique challenges facing parents who are also illegal aliens. A Mexican father has been involved in a lengthy court battle to regain his custody rights to his three young sons. Following his deportation in 2010, the boys were in the care of their mother, and American citizen. However, when she was deemed unfit to raise the children, they were removed from the home and placed in foster care. He has been fighting to get them back ever since.

A judge recently ruled that the father is to be reunited with his boys. They will remain in the country for a short time, after which the court will make a final determination in regard to his parental rights. He is hoping to return to his family home with his sons, and raise them with the help of his extended family in Mexico.

As this case demonstrates, foreign nationals who face challenges to their custody rights often fight an uphill battle. Unfamiliarity with the American legal system can seriously hinder their chances for a successful outcome. In addition, many are attempting to navigate a legal system and hearings in a language that is not their first, which can further complicate matters. In such cases, obtaining solid legal counsel is the best method of assuring a fair and aggressive response to a challenge of one's parental rights, in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Deported dad who lost custody to be reunited with his kids," Richard Fausset, Nov. 28, 2012

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