SALEM -- The plight of a 6-year-old girl ordered to move to Mexico to be reunited with her father, reached Oregon's halls of power Wednesday as the governor called for a review of the case.
Gov. John Kitzhaber asked the Oregon Department of Human Services to review the proper procedures for this unique case, as first reported by the Statesman Journal. The girl's biological father is a convicted felon who served time in Oregon before being deported.
The child and her mother, Gloria Segura, are both American citizens. But Segura was declared an unfit parent due to a methamphetamine addiction, so the child was put into state custody.
DHS is reviewing the case after it was determined the child should be reunited with her estranged father.
"We've been in front of a court in this case all along. The court has a chance to hear all of the information and evidence, and ultimately, the court makes a decision about what is in the best interest of the child," said DHS Director Erinn Kelle-Siel.
The issue was gaining support from both democrats and republicans in Salem.
"At least we have gotten to a place where we can say, OK let's have a review of the case," said Senator Jackie Winters, (R) of Salem.
"They've only said the father takes precedence. The father trumps anybody else. And I would understand that if he weren't a violent felon," said the girl's grandmother Kerrie Lechuga. "They are going to send her to a different world."
The grandmother wants permanent custody. She doesn't understand why child welfare workers would send a United States citizen to a foreign country.
"To me it is more like being deported or exiled," said Lechuga.
The Oregon Department of Human Services issued the following statement:
Oregon’s Department of Human Services, Child Welfare follows state and federal laws in all reunification cases whether the placement is in state, out of state or out of country. While the reunification procedure is a legal obligation to reunite children with their legal parents, the work of Child Welfare is always guided by what is best for the child. There are checks and balances in the system that includes background checks, home studies and collaboration with local services for the child. In all DHS cases local judges with access to all information make the final decision.
KGW is not naming the 6-year old girl to protect her identity.