SALEM -- The plight of a 6-year-old girl ordered to move to Mexico, to be reunited with a father she has never met, reached Oregon's halls of power Wednesday as the governor called for a review of the case, according to a newspaper report.
Gov. John Kitzhaber has asked the Oregon Department of Human Services to review the case of a young girl who is set to Mexico to be with her father, a convicted felon, according to the Statesman Journal.
The girl, a U.S. citizen, currently lives with her grandmother, Kerrie Lechuga.
The child's mother, Gloria Segura, also a citizen, has been declared an unfit parent due to a methamphetamine addiction and DHS had determined that the child should be reunited with her estranged father, according to the report.
"They are going to send her to a different world," said Lechuga to KGW Monday.
The girl's father, Alfonso Pantoja-Samano, is a convicted felon who served time in Oregon before being deported.
"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 Lechuga.
The grandmother wants 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.
Sen. President Peter Courtney, Sen. Jackie Winters and Rep. Vicki Berger met with DHS officials Tuesday, according to the Statesman Journal.
The Oregon Department of Human Services said it can't comment on specific cases but 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.