I CARE Foundation: Department of State Needs Attorneys To Help Prevent Thousands Of Latin American Children Living In The U.S.From International Abduction

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The I CARE Foundation is urging undocumented residents living in the United States to seek the assistance of the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues when their child is internationally abducted, and for lawyers interested in helping these defenseless targeted children to join the "Hague Convention Attorney Network".

Chasing The Cyclone, Peter Thomas Senese, I CARE Foundation, Mexico, Latin America, Lawyer, Hague

Peter Thomas Senese' CHASING THE CYCLONE

Part of the I CARE Foundation mission is to serve the undocumented residents targted for child abduction ... Peter Thomas Senese

The I CARE Foundation is urging lawyers serving the undocumented Latin American community living in the United States to participate in the Department of State's "Hague Convention Attorney Network" so that they may assist undocumented residents living in the United States who have had their child internationally abducted.

According to a recently published resource guide on international child abduction written by Peter Thomas Senese and Carolyn Vlk titled 'The World Turned Upside Down'. the total number of 'unreported' cases of international child abduction in the United States is surging at levels forecasted to be equal to or greater than the total number of 'reported' cases due to a lack of knowledge by undocumented residents living in the United States and due to limited understanding by family lawyer practitioners that legal remedies exist under the Hague Convention that can enable for the return of a child. As international child abduction grows to epidemic proportions, the I CARE Foundation is urging lawyers to join the Department of State's "Hague Convention Attorney Network". so that they may be able to help parents who generally do not know help is available to them.

I CARE Foundation Director Peter Thomas Senese commented, "Many undocumented residents living in the United States who have had their child abducted abroad do not realize they have legal rights under the Hague Convention and are hesitant to turn to the Department Of State's Office Of Children's Issues for assistance when in reality the OCI is deeply committed to helping all children and their targeted parents regardless of documentation issues. As a parent who desperately turned to the Department of State's OCI for assistance when my family faced the storms of international abduction, I want all parents living in the United States, especially those parents who are undocumented to know that they can trust the Office of Children's Issues to help them reunite with their abducted child. And if they have concern about directly approaching the Department of State, then I want these parents or their attorneys to know that they can contact the I CARE Foundation and speak to our team of lawyers and advisors, many whom speak Spanish, because the foundation is more than willing and able to help them: part of our mission is to help this unserved community."

St. Petersburg, Florida Attorney Patricia Lee, a Director of the I CARE Foundation and a member of the Department of State's "Hague Convention Attorney Network" commented, "It is the clear policy of the United States’ implementing agency for the Hague Convention to assist parents victimized by child abduction, regardless of their residency status. It is shocking and heartbreaking to know that any parent would feel they could not avail themselves of what may be the only help available to them to reunite with their children across international borders, out of fear of personal retaliation. In this time of such criticism of our government, I am very proud to know that our State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues takes such a position. They maintain lists of referral attorneys, many of whom are willing to assist victimized parents on a reduced fee or pro bono basis. The office also maintains lists of knowledgeable mentor attorneys, and experienced staff in all areas of child abduction and abduction prevention. They are a wealth of information and assistance to victimized parents, including in obtaining assistance in other countries. Anything we can do to get the word out to legal professionals and every victimized parent, regardless of national origin or residency status, is crucial to staunch the flow of these cases worldwide. Critically, undocumented residents in the United States need to know that if their child is abducted abroad, both they and their child have legal remedy available to them - and it starts with the State Department's Office of Children's Issues”

Gloria Nyberg, born in Bogota, Columbia, a member of I CARE's Advisory Board, and a child advocate with a long and esteemed history of reuniting children who have been particularly abducted to South and Central America, said, "I want the Spanish speaking community to know that during the 20 years that I have been helping reunite parents and children living in Mexico and Latin America who have been abducted, I have never had or even heard of a deportation due to reporting a child missing. And I have assisted in reuniting over 60 children back to their custodial parent, I have always found the United States governmental agencies to be extremely cooperative regardless of immigration status. Undocumented residents need to know that they can turn to the OCI for assistance because the government's officials are there to truly help them and their abducted children. And if any parent or their representatives have concern about directly contacting OCI, they can contact our team at the I CARE Foundation as we are willing and able to guide them through the process under the rules of the Hague Convention. I know trust is a very big issue for many parents - but we're here to honestly help."

A highly informative report compiled by the renowned Washington based Pew Hispanic Center reports that most immigrant groups are comprised of young families. The likelihood that a child will be born while the parents are present in the U.S. is high. Prior to 2007, data collected on parents of children under 18 only identified one parent, and a second parent could only be identified if they were married to the first parent. Currently, a second parent identifier is considered whether or not the parents are married to each other.

In 2007 CPS, it was estimated that of the approximately 37.9 million immigrants present in the U.S., nearly 1 in 3 immigrants were present illegally.

In regards to children born to illegal immigrants, in the five-year period from 2003 to 2008, that number rose from 2.7 million to 4 million. The report published by the Pew Hispanic Centers reported that nationally the children of illegal immigrants now comprise 1 in 15 elementary and secondary students in the U.S. In Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and Texas more than 1 in every 10 students in those states are the children of illegal immigrants.

One of the most recent Department of State reports to Congress reports that over 1,640 American children abducted abroad. In addition, a recent Government Accountability Office report cites that the number of reported international child abduction cases nearly tripled from 2006 to 2009. According to the published findings cited in 'The World Turned Upside Down', if current growth projections occur, over 50,000 American children will be 'reported' abducted internationally from now until 2020. This number is expected to be mirrored by the number of 'unreported' cases.

For more information, the I CARE Foundation urges all parents, including documented and undocumented residents, who have had a child of habitual residency living in the United States, to contact the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues Outreach Division for further information. Lawyers representing undocumented parents or who are interested in finding out more information, including those considering joining the "Hague Convention Attorney Network" are also urged to contact OCI.


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Maria Gina