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Deported Guatemalan mother reunited with American children

[JURIST] A new custody hearing ordered by the Nebraska Supreme Court after a finding that the state violated the due process rights of Guatemalan refugee Mercedes Santiago-Felipe has reunited her with the two American-born children she had not seen in three years. Santiago-Felipe came to the United States and sought asylum more than a decade ago, after her father was killed in Guatemala's civil war. In 2001 her two children were placed in foster care and she was arrested for misdemeanor child abuse after smacking one of them. She was deported when it was discovered that immigration officials had a hold on her for having missed an asylum application hearing years before in Florida. According to Milo Mumgaard of the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, the state's only effort to inform Santiago-Felipe that it was seeking termination of her parental rights consisted of one small ad in a newspaper, she was not provided with a lawyer while in jail, and she was never told that she could contest her deportation and remain in the US to seek reunification with her children. AP has background on the story.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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