SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — A judge ruled a 6-year-old Oregon girl must go live in Mexico with her recently deported father.
The girl was ordered to be sent to Mexico earlier in a ruling by the DHS. But after her grandparents stepped up, Gov. Kitzhaber and lawmakers wanted a judge to take a closer look at the case.
The international custody battle set her grandparents who wanted her to keep her in the state against her father – deported after he was released from prison – and her mother, who has warrants out for her arrest.
Attorneys for the girl’s parents arrived at court Thursday morning and went behind closed doors with the judge. Family members also spoke with the judge.
The judge heard from the father — who was convicted of a violent domestic crime — by phone, as well as counselors, therapists and caseworkers here and in Mexico who support returning her to live with her father.
The girl lived with him until he went to prison, and DHS said the two have a good relationship. They unveiled a detailed plan for the child’s care. She will live with her father at a home shared with his parents and other family members.
The father is in counseling for alcohol and other issues, and Mexican social services agencies pledge to monitor the child.
The girl’s mother told the judge even though she is not allowed to have custody, she does not believe the girl is safe with her father. She could appeal this decision.
After a Marion County Juvenile Court Judge ruled the first-grader — a US citizen who was born in Silverton — was to go live with her father in Mexico, her grandparents stepped up and let it be known they want the girl to stay here.
The girl has been living with foster families for two years, but has bounced around to nine different spots in that time.
After the ruling, grandmother Kerrie Lechuga was stunned and in tears. She told KOIN 6 News Thursday the girl should stay with her current foster family. She also said she will march to the governor’s office and ask for executive help now that the judge ruled the girl must leave the country.
Lechuga, who is also not allowed custody, doesn’t think the father will even allow her to keep in touch by computer, as promised.
The judge said she wants the girl to be sent to Mexico as quickly as possible so the child can gain some stability in her life.
DHS did not say when the girl will leave.