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  1. #1
    Senior Member Virginiamama's Avatar
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    Decatur AL: Illegals lose 6 children to state...System

    http://decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/ne ... nics.shtml



    Daily photo by Emily Saunders
    After Carlos Lagunas, right, and Maria Concepcion Maya asked for help from the state, the Department of Human Resources apparently took their six children away from them.
    Decatur's Hispanic Influx: Fusión Cultural

    Hispanics lose 6 children to state
    System fails couple living without electricity, advocate says

    Editor's note: This is part five of a seven-part series on Decatur's Hispanic influx

    By Chris Paschenko
    chris@decaturdaily.com· 340-2442

    Amid squalid living conditions, state officials removed six children from a dark Decatur apartment, leaving a Mexican immigrant couple fearing their family ties have been permanently severed.

    With the aid of a Spanish interpreter, Carlos Lagunas, 24, and Maria Concepcion Maya, 23, said they met nine years ago and came to Decatur from Guerrero.

    They had six children here, ages 6 years to 8 months, all U.S. citizens, but only recently fell on hard times. With Hispanic advocate Grace Comontofski translating Tuesday, they said they were locked out of their apartment on Danville Road Southwest about two months ago. They were living there without a lease.

    "A man kept raising the rent," Lagunas said. "Then they told us we had three days to get out. They locked it up and said we can't take anything, even our clothes. The manager kept the television, sofa and children's toys."

    Lagunas called his search for another apartment an emergency. He said a manager of a complex where they now live told them no apartments were immediately available, but offered them one that was without electricity and in disrepair.

    "It was so dirty," Lagunas said. "The walls were stained, and the carpet was filthy. The apartment was in someone else's name, and I couldn't have the power turned on in my name."

    While living without electricity for 15 days and relying on nearby relatives for cold-food storage, Lagunas said he asked the state for help.

    Maya relived her Nov. 3 encounter when two state Department of Human Resource workers arrived with her 6-year-old son Alexander and a Frances Nungester Elementary teacher who could translate.

    "I opened the door, and they (DHR) pushed their way in," Maya said. "They told me they were here to get the children and to get out. They wouldn't let me back in."

    Ed Nichols, assistant superintendent with Decatur City Schools, said DHR employees came to the school to interview the first-grade student. He said the school didn't call the state.

    "They asked an employee of the school system if she would go with them to the apartment to translate, because they know her from her involvement in helping the Hispanic community," Nichols said. "She did go to translate for them. There was an officer there by the name of Williams, who is bilingual. She left when he was able to take care of it."

    Maya said DHR workers searched the apartment, looking in all the rooms, closets and the refrigerator. She explained why the family had no furniture. She said they were moving to another apartment the following day, and that they would have electricity.

    Alexander overheard the conversation and fled, fearing he would be separated from his mother.

    "Four police cars came," Maya said. "Two looked for Alexander, but he came back. They (DHR) took the whole family to a hotel."

    The state has apparently placed the children in non-Spanish-speaking foster homes, but privacy restrictions prevent Tonita Phipps, director of Morgan County DHR, from discussing a specific case.

    Maya said the state asked her for the children's birth certificates and Social Security cards, which she gave them.

    Hair, urine samples

    The state asked for hair and urine samples, which Lagunas thought was necessary for a paternity test. The couple said they were tricked into taking a test to detect the presence of illegal drugs in their systems.

    Although they denied using drugs, Lagunas said the state told one or both of them that they failed the test. Lagunas said the state has denied them future visitation.

    Phipps said reports from the community generally are all the state needs to investigate allegations of abuse or neglect. A court order to investigate isn't necessary, she said.

    Phipps said the state does ask families to take drug tests, but failing one doesn't automatically bar visitation.

    "We're required to allow all parents to visit their children," Phipps said. "Most visits in foster care are supervised anyway."

    She said a court order is required to deny visitation.

    Although Esteban Lagunas, 35, said his brother and Maya aren't legal U.S. residents, Phipps said the state agency doesn't determine parental visitation based on immigration status.

    "My sister-in-law is grieving so much for her children," Esteban Lagunas said. "She's never been away from them. I'm afraid she may do something to herself. They're ready to leave (the United States) as long as their family is together."

    The parents have apparently been assigned different lawyers. Maya pulled Hartselle attorney Wendy J. Lopez's business card from her jacket pocket.

    Lopez wouldn't confirm whether Maya is a client. She said the law prevents her from commenting on DHR cases.

    Phipps said court hearings within 72 hours of a child's removal from home are mandatory.

    "A judge would then determine if there is sufficient evidence to place the child in our custody or return the child to the parents," Phipps said. "We always attempt to place them with a relative before taking them into our custody, if the relatives are willing to assume custody and are suitable. We provide services for the family ... to work toward reunification."

    Situation unraveled

    Esteban Lagunas said he didn't know about his brother's situation until it unraveled. After working in Decatur's poultry industry, Carlos Lagunas sought higher wages in the construction business, but with winter approaching the number of jobs thinned along with his finances.

    Cultural pride may have prevented Carlos Lagunas from asking his brother for help, Comontofski said. Hispanic men take deep pride in providing for their families, she said.

    Esteban Lagunas said he was willing to assume custody. Comontofski said she would also try to have the children placed with her, if the court would grant her guardianship.

    Comontofski contacted the Mexican Consulate in Atlanta and informed them of the couple's situation. The consulate is looking into the matter, a representative said, and would have to research it further before commenting.

    Comontofski said Thursday the consulate is sending a counselor to meet with the couple. She said she's working to provide clothing and furniture to them as well.

    Maya said she only has photographs of Alexander. She pulled a school photo sheet of him from her bag. Because the family lost all of their belongings in the move, she said she no longer has pictures of her other children Ashley, 5, Sari, 4, Carlos Jr., 2, Tana, 1, and Anahi, 8 months.

    No criminal records

    Lagunas and Maya said they have no criminal records, and their children weren't malnourished, neglected or abused. If asked to leave the country with their children, they said they wouldn't return.

    Comontofski said she has not heard of similar complaints like the couple's plight in Decatur.

    "They went to DHR and requested help and were denied it," Comontofski said. "The system failed them."

    Phipps said the state is often portrayed as the transgressor in similar circumstances.

    "It's unfortunate for us we can't share details of a case," Phipps said. "But the majority of the time the information you receive is not the way it happened."

    District Judge David Breland said Hispanics do not appear in his court for dependency cases in numbers disproportionate to their population.
    Equal rights for all, special privileges for none. Thomas Jefferson

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Let's see 6 kids, parents with different last names. Could it be that they were getting assistance for all 6 kids and dad was working for cash. I would bet money on it. 6 in 9 years. Pop, Pop, Pop,.......
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  3. #3
    Senior Member JohnB2012's Avatar
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    Lagunas and Maya said they have no criminal records
    Probably not with fake IDs.

    If asked to leave the country with their children, they said they wouldn't return.
    What are we waiting for, get them on a plane and send them on.

  4. #4
    MW
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    If asked to leave the country with their children, they said they wouldn't return.
    Sounds good to me, escort them to Mexico!

    "They went to DHR and requested help and were denied it," Comontofski said. "The system failed them."
    Yeah right! It's us, the American people, that the system is failing.

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" ** Edmund Burke**

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  5. #5
    daggul's Avatar
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    9 years here and can't speak English??

  6. #6
    MW
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    Why hasn't ICE arrested the couple? It's not like their hidden in the shadows. It seems everyone but ICE knows who they are and where to find them.

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" ** Edmund Burke**

    Support our FIGHT AGAINST illegal immigration & Amnesty by joining our E-mail Alerts athttps://eepurl.com/cktGTn

  7. #7
    Senior Member greyparrot's Avatar
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    Are these people the ultimate freeloaders or what? You know dang well that they were collecting food-stamps, WIC, welfare, and medicaid for all 6 of those children (6 kids at 23?!?!). What, do we owe them, by virtue of the fact they now have all these kids, a cozy, furnished cape cod in quiet residential area as well? This outragaoues sense of entitlement is disgusting.

    "It's unfortunate for us we can't share details of a case," Phipps said. "But the majority of the time the information you receive is not the way it happened."
    Yep, and this story, as told by the parents and their enabler, Grace Comontofski, sure has a lot of holes in it, beginning with claim that the dad contacted the state for help. I would bet my bottom dollar that the filthy, depraved living conditions these parents were sujecting their children to was only discovered when they were turned in to DHS by an outside party (a concerned teacher perhaps).

  8. #8

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    My wife is a teacher & sees it all the time. Her written spanish is good
    enough to write notes to the parents (the kids are in K) & there is often no
    response. Finally, the ESL teacher told her a lot of the parents may be
    illiterate even in spanish. This country is going to be 3rd world in
    no time if more people don't wake up & a lot of traitors are tarred &
    feathered like the old days.

  9. #9
    Banned
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    Life is hard for criminals, as it should be. 'Nuff said...

  10. #10
    Senior Member magyart's Avatar
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    I feel sorry for the kids

    Quote Originally Posted by CrocketsGhost
    Life is hard for criminals, as it should be. 'Nuff said...
    I do feel sorry for the kids. However, I don't believe the system failed. I think the system worked for the kids and the parents failed. They failed to follow the laws of this country. When you break the law, there should be consequences.

    I suggest someone (local) contact the editor the editor of the newspaper and present a "different point of view".

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