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Archive for June, 2009

Undocumented immigrants and non-custodial fathers have something in common: Their kids are arbitrarily abducted by the family court

The town of Chatino

The town of Chatino

system.. or the lack of it.

Actually, in the case of Cirila Balthazar Cruz, unlike Bail Romero‘s,  it was not even a family court judge who played God with parent rights, it was originally  a social worker. Cirila Balthazar Cruz is a Mexican immigrant from Oaxaca and lives in Pascagoula (Mississipi). She has the bad fortune to give birth to a baby girl in the local hospital. However, Cirila Balthazar Cruz does not speak Spanish, but Chatino, a Zacapotec language spoken in the State of Oaxaca. Hence the Puerto Rican social worker entendi nada and…  got pretty resentful about it. Verdict: unfit to be a mother. That’s enough for the very sensitive and open-minded hospital authorities: the baby girl is placed for adoption with an affluent local family, while the mother faced deportation. Cindy Von Quednow, the Colorlinesblog reporter, does not peep about the role of Pascagoula family court in the story. Obviously, its absence was deafening…

Again, I hope David Goldman will soon be reunited with his son.  David Goldman’s case should teach lawmakers and politicians, especially those screaming at Brazil’s non respect of an international convention on abduction: There are blatant cases of abductions going on in the US, by family courts or while family courts looked the other way.

Hat tip: Laura Martinez

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The Closer (Kira Sedgwick)

The Closer (Kira Sedgwick)

I happened to watch “The Closer” (Kyra Sedgwick) tonight. The first episode of season 5, whose title I could not find. Frankly, at the beginning, I was scared that the show would  sunk in one of the worst cliche ever. Brenda and her squad discovered that an entire latino  family has been murdered: the mother, the two kids and la suegra. “Usual” suspect: the husband, Rivera.  Rivera has been charged with domestic violence in the past but he tries to fix his indomitable temper by going more to church. In addition, he has had a mistress. You have the whole latino male profile: the guy has intercourse with his wife, then his mistress, beats his kids, goes to church and have a few tequilas in between (change tequila for wine and delete church going and you get the French).  He has to be the guy.

But by chance, Brenda’s investigation stumbles into an FBI protected agent involved with a drug lord. The protected agent was supposed to be the victim instead of the entire family. The author of the tragic mistake: pregnant Dina (latina), who did not hesitate to kill an entire family to take her man out of jail. When Brenda gets her to confess, Dina utters that she wanted to have her family! What wouldn’t one do in the name of family…

In the end, Lieutenant Provenza does his best to comfort Rivera, who at least is cleared. Family courts goes for the easy scapegoat in less dramatic matters – the male brute-, while the “closer” looks beyond cliches.  The law is always two steps behind society.

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David Goldman seemed very close to see the end of his ordeal. In 2004, his son Sean, then four, was abducted by his late ex-wife,

Photo BringSeanHome.Org

Photo BringSeanHome.Org

Bruna, a Brazilian citizen. Everything started with a simple, innocuous family trip to  Brazil. Then, while in Brazil, Bruna, David Goldman’s wife,  showed no intention to come back to New Jersey, where the couple lived. If David wants to see his kid, he will have to a grant Bruna sole custody of Sean. Bruna would then get a divorce in Brazil from David Goldman, remarry  with a prominent lawyer and work the Brazilian family court system to remove Goldman’s name from Sean’s birth record.  She died in childbirth last month. In the meantime, David Goldman went to court in New Jersey, got a court order for a custody hearing. The kid should be returned to his father during the custody hearing. But the Brazilian court waited a year to respond to New Jersey court and finally decided that Sean could stay in Brazil.  End of the story? Nope. Brazil is a signatary of the Hague abduction convention, the Obama administration brings the case to the attention of the Brazilian authorities. A Brazilian federal judge ordered the boy to be turned to his father. Last wednesday, the boy had to be turn to the American Consulate in Rio but  on Tuesday, the Brazilian Supreme court suspended the order at the request of the Progressive Party, which argued that the Sean return to the US was unconstitutional.  The Brazilian Supreme Court is now to take up the case.

David Goldman’s ordeal is heartbreaking and one can only hope that he will soon be reunited with his son. What spoils it though is the clamor of the new knight of the fight against child  abduction,  Chris Smith, Republican Representative of New Jersey, who bashes at the Brazilian government for not respecting an international convention.  Chris Smith clearly needs to be introduced to the club of fathers who have been deprived from the right to see their kids, here, in New Jersey or in the U.S.  More often, family courts granted sole custody to the mother and the non-custodial fathers saw their rights to see their kids curtailed or annihilated. Unlike David Goldman, the rights of these fathers are not protected by an international convention against child abduction, and the media splendidly ignore them. When have we heard Chris Smith talking about father rights in the  State of New Jersey?

 

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