Saturday, November 28, 2015

Why did CPS grant criminal father custody of two young daughters? (Pocatello, Idaho)

Great editorial from Idaho State Journal.

ISJ opinion editorial: What about the health and welfare of Zinnia and Dahlia?

Updated Nov 24, 2015

The last time we took issue with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, it was back in April when it became apparent that this government agency had essentially destroyed a local business for no good reason.

That business was Seasons of Hope, a mental health services provider with seven locations in Southeast Idaho and about 200 employees.

Health and Welfare accused Seasons of Medicaid fraud and ordered the company to pay $550,000 in fines and restitution. It took Seasons Chief Executive Officer Heath Sommer two years and lots of money in attorney’s fees to prove his business was innocent of the charges, but by that time Seasons was no more.

Fast forward to now and we have Health and Welfare involved in an even more questionable action. Health and Welfare has recommended that two young American-born girls from Southeast Idaho be essentially deported to be with their father in Mexico.

Health and Welfare officials say they’re only resolving a custody dispute.

We call it child endangerment on the part of a government agency.

The children’s father, a Mexican national, was previously deported from the United States. This individual has a criminal record, but it has unfortunately been sealed by the courts.

The children’s mother, Kelly Fink, of Pocatello, is a recovering drug addict who currently lives in a homeless shelter.

But she’s staying clean and clearly wants to put her life back together. Kelly’s mother and stepfather have moved to Southeast Idaho to help her get back on her feet.

Kelly’s two daughters, Zinnia and Dahlia, were being cared for by a foster family in Idaho Falls with regular visitation by their mom.

Rather than see these kids reunited with their mother, Health and Welfare decided to move the girls to Mexico to be with their father — the guy with the sealed criminal record who was deported.

Zinnia and Dahlia were transported by Idaho authorities to Boise for their Monday trip to Mexico. By the time you read this, the girls will likely be in Mexico, where they will spend the rest of their childhoods.

Perhaps if Health and Welfare officials had perused Mexico’s crime statistics, even by doing a quick Internet search, they would have realized what kind of mistake it was to send these two Southeast Idaho girls there.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “Criminal cartels — which traffic 90 percent of the cocaine that enters the United States — have killed an estimated 60,000 Mexican soldiers, police, politicians and civilians since 2006.” Other sources put the death toll much higher. Mexico’s murder rate is at least three times that of the United States.

During a less than two-year period between late 2012 and May 2014, 8,000 Mexicans simply disappeared. Since 2006, the number of Mexicans who’ve gone missing is nearly 30,000. It’s believed that these individuals who’ve mysteriously vanished were also murdered by Mexican drug cartels.

An incident in September 2014 illustrates the level of violence and lawlessness in Mexico. Members of a drug cartel rounded up over 40 students at a Mexican university. The students were never seen again. Their parents went looking for them and while they did not find any traces of their children, they did find multiple mass graves containing the bodies of 300 other people.

We won’t even delve into Mexico’s well-deserved reputation as a place with rampant sex trafficking, forced prostitution, forced labor, child sexual abuse and rape.

It’s a country known for attracting what are called child sex tourists — people who specifically travel to Mexico from other places because of the abundance of child prostitutes there. It’s not reassuring that Health and Welfare said it has talked to Mexican officials who promise they’re going to keep a close watch on Zinnia and Dahlia and make sure their father is taking good care of them.

Google “child abuse Mexico” and you’ll find out what kind of job Mexican officials are doing to protect Mexican children.

Judge Bryan Murray signed off on Health and Welfare’s plan to send Zinnia and Dahlia south of the border and we are obviously left wondering why.

We wish we could be sure that Zinnia and Dahlia will somehow not become tragic statistics as new residents of Mexico.

If something bad happens, Idaho will have nothing to offer but an apology.