Illegal immigrants face challenges far beyond merely getting deported. First, although it is easy enough to overstay a visa, many illegal immigrants make a dangerous trek through Latin America to arrive at border after border, facing danger from gangs, drug traffickers, and corrupt police officials. Once inside the borders of the U.S. , things just get complicated. Finding a job, saving money, and acquiring shelter also poses difficulties. For Encarnación Bail Romero, a Guatemalan citizen, she has suffered something much worse than any of that, according to an article from CNN.
Finding a job without a Social Security Number is tough. Many illegal immigrants will purchase a pilfered one or merely make up a number. If no one does any close looking, the only worry is that the number doesn’t belong to anyone or that its owner is dead. Ms. Romero did one of the two and it has cost her dearly.
Certainly people who break the law should be caught and punished. But some punishments are unintended. Such is the case for Ms. Romero. Arrested in a raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) back in May of 2007, Ms. Romero was separated from her six month old baby boy. Instead being deported, she was put in jail for identity fraud due to her working under a stolen SSN. Ms. Romero’s siblings cared for the boy until they found a babysitting service offered by a “clergy couple.”
According to the story, the couple, without consent of Ms. Romero, put the child up for adoption. The Moser family was granted custody of the child for a year and then adopted him. A judge ruled in their favor, saying that Ms. Romero had abandoned her child. She claims, however, that because she only understands Spanish, the condition of her son and his pending adoption was never fully explained to her.
Now she is out of jail with her deportation delayed until the courts determine who Carlos belongs to—the Mosers, or Ms. Romero. An earlier court decision sided with Ms. Romero. The Missouri Supreme Court will issue a ruling soon.
Whether the courts side with Ms. Romero or not, this is a painful and tragic side effect of illegal immigration. And it isn’t new. There is really no way of knowing just how many Hispanic children put up for adoption in the U.S. were separated from their parents due to ICE raids and deportations. Thinking from the side of a parent, this is just tragic. Could you imagine losing your son or daughter forever? Both Ms. Romero and the Mosers face that challenge now. If Ms. Romero loses her son, it will be because she illegally became a stranger in a foreign land who fell into the recesses of a complicated immigration system. If the Mosers lose him, it will be because of the same thing.