"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Monday, August 4, 2008

Deadbeat Dads and ICE

Not meaning to open up a can of political worms, but I had a conversation with a female friend, recently, who frequently sits as a substitute judge. She was exasperated about a child support case (no names or identifying features were revealed, at all). The parents were both illegal aliens, never married, never really had a “relationship” beyond an assignation or two, but had an “anchor baby” between them. Pretty common situation.

Mom brought dad to court for child support. Because this was a civil matter, ICE was not involved. The domestic courts deal with this sort of situation all the time so the basic fact pattern is not unusual. In the case in question, it was just a hearing to set the monthly amount of child support the father was supposed to pay. The minimum monthly amount in my state is $65.00. This is the amount generally set for minors, incarcerated parents or parents who can’t work. Most illegal aliens in my county work off the books and frequently claim they are unemployed. Because they tend to lack education or an established work history, you can’t prove otherwise and it is not unusual for them to be ordered to pay just the minimum amount. Sometimes the court will set the amount they SHOULD be able to earn if they were working.

This case was slightly different because, as it turns out, the father had been convicted of a felony (I didn’t ask the details) and was set to be deported (don’t know when or to where). What stood out to my friend was that the mother was demanding that the father be released because if he wasn’t, how was she supposed to support herself and her child? My friend the judge, had to explain to the mother that federal law (deportation) trumps state law (child support) so there was nothing she could do.

As if $65.00 per month (assuming he even paid) was going to go very far, anyway.

I wish I could say this is just a weird situation but we see children abandoned by their fathers all the time (you see it more frequently when the father didn’t have much of a relationship with the mother to begin with). What makes it worse with illegals is that their citizenship status and lifestyle makes it next to impossible to track the father. The Department of Child Support lacks adequate resources to do that. This is not a national security problem and there won’t be federal agents knocking on a deadbeat dad’s door. Moreover, if the mothers are here illegally, certain public assistance benefits are not available to them. If the mother is illegal, particularly if she is Hispanic, the chances are very high that she is not well educated and has poor job prospects, particularly if her language skills aren’t good. Unlike her brothers, construction work is not an option. Moreover, many Hispanic illegals have many children, which makes the mother all the more dependant on the kindness of strangers or public assistance. Mothers whose children are abandoned by the fathers have a pretty high likelihood of ending up dependant on the next guy who shows up willing to pay the bills, at least for a time. It is a terrible cycle.

We run into similar problems with abuse cases. When you have multiple families crowded into dwellings, including many single men living away from home, occurrences of sexual abuse are not infrequent. Unlike most citizens, who don’t really even consider running since they have no place to hide, the shadowy world of illegal immigration results in adult abusers simply slipping away, one step ahead of the law. They usually aren’t caught because they are used to living in the shadows, using false names, paying cash, etc. Moreover, their fellow illegals don’t tend to cooperate with the authorities to catch these guys. Horribly, I’ve seen quite a few of them come back a few months later and incidences of repeat offenses are relatively high in this population.

All in all, it is a terrible cycle and extremely grim for the children caught in the situation. I don’t have an answer for any of it and that was not the reason for this post. I just know the court system is a poor, poor substitute for people making good decisions and doing the right thing.


Patsy said...

When I lived in El Paso County, I was appointed to serve on the "Child Welfare" Board by the Co. Commissioners. We had a problem in that pregnant ladies from Juarez, MX came over to our county hospital when they were (or said they were) in labor. As a result, they gave birth to a new American citizen, and certainly Mom had to stay here to care for the child. I served 7 years, and the situation with the welfare/justice system didn't get any better. I admire the work that you are doing.

Holee said...

I think girls should be taught that if they have a baby, single or in a marriage, be prepared to be able to support the child on your own.

My hubby was legal, a big deal at Merck & Co. but it took years for me to have his pay attached and by then he was thousands in arrears.

Even with a court order and a father that pays, usually the amount is so small it wouldn't support a flea.

I had to solve my own problem by getting a man's job in the construction industry and eventually I owned my own company.

All too often these single mom's think they are owed support from welfare because they have a child. Eventually that child will become the same kind of parent and the circle will continue.

Peggy said...

Thank you for inspiring me! I've nominated you for a blog award.... The Brillant Weblog. Check out my blog for the details.

Holee said...

Congrats on the nomination! Jezebel & Evelyn inspire us all!