There are stories you never forget.
They come to you at odd times. They haunt you because the injustice is almost too much to bear.
So it is with the story of Encarnacion Bail Romero.
A dozen years ago she was arrested and jailed in an immigration raid at a Barry County poultry plant in southwest Missouri. It was a raid much like the one in Mississippi last week, where nearly 700 poultry plant workers were rounded up for possible deportation.
Like many of those workers seeking their American dream, Romero was an undocumented immigrant. She had a 1-year-old son, named Carlos, who was a dual citizen of the U.S. and Romero’s home country of Guatemala.
I met Romero as she sat in a courtroom at the Missouri Supreme Court in Jefferson City, as her attorneys fought for her to regain her child. The boy had been watched by family members while she was in jail, but eventually was adopted by a couple in Carthage, Missouri.
Romero spoke little English. Her son was taken from her without her understanding what was happening, her attorneys argued.
She won and lost at the same time.
The court called what happened to Romero a “manifest injustice.” A unanimous court ordered a new trial over the custody of the child. But at the same time the court ruled 4-3 that the child, already 5 before the case reached the judges, should stay with the adoptive family until the lower court decided what to do.
Romero never got her son back. He’s 13 now.
This is the tragic reality when the government uses its power to separate parents from children.
It’s happening at the border, at migrant centers where children are ripped from the grasp of their mothers and fathers and held in inhumane conditions while parents are sent back across the border.
By Tony Messenger for STLTODAY.COM
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