Tuesday, December 04, 2007

More Government Goofiness

Not to be outshone by the Department of Fish & Wildlife, Oregon Department of Human Services lobbed a stupid government trick of its own into the limelight. Consider the case of the Brandt family vs. the State of Oregon, in the matter of Gabriel Allred.

Steve and Angela Brandt, of Toledo, Oregon, are the foster parents that young Gabriel has lived with since he was four months old. They are the only family Gabriel has ever known, and the family that wants to adopt him. Gabe is the two year-old US citizen the State of Oregon wants to deport to Mexico to live with a grandmother he’s never met.

DHS argues that children generally fare better when they’re raised by relatives—this from an agency that regularly separates children from their parents and places them into foster care. The agency further argues that Gabriel’s grandmother is well qualified to act as his legal parent and guardian. But if one looks at the results of the grandmother’s previous parenting attempt (Gabriel’s father is a convicted drug offender and child rapist), it becomes rather easy to challenge DHS’ broad assumption and condemn the agency for its specious argument.

Local network television crews have interviewed the Brandts and filmed Gabriel interacting with the family. Gabe’s situation is well documented; by all appearances and accounts Gabe is happy, secure, well adjusted and, most importantly, loved. There is no good reason to uproot him from this environment and thrust him into one that’s far less certain.

Nor does it seem particularly fair to remove a child who’s only begun to acquire English language skills from a household that speaks only English and place him in a household that speaks only Spanish. This immediate communications gap would only heap trauma on top of trauma, putting Gabe at an even greater disadvantage.

The State’s position that Gabe would fare better raised in his own culture is disingenuous, another specious argument. Culture is learned, not inherited, and you’d think that people who are charged with making life-changing decisions for those unable to make such decisions for themselves would be smart enough to know the difference.

But the most egregious aspect of this whole debacle is that deporting a US citizen sets a dangerous precedent. It shouldn’t be allowed to happen.