Voices in Focus: A Family Split by ICE, Then Splintered by Social Services

Happy President’s day! Here’s what we’re seeing in the ethnic and community press this morning.

* Colorlines, and its publisher the Applied Research Center, asked readers to sign a petition seeking to reunite Felipe Montes, a deported Mexican, with his three young sons. His case is described in the video above:

Felipe, 31, has been a devoted father who’s done everything to give his kids the best life possible — but, after dropping his kids off at day care one morning on his way to work, he was picked up by ICE, detained, transferred, and deported to Mexico, all with extremely limited contact with his family. Because Felipe’s wife wasn’t able to support the kids herself, the Allegheny County Department of Social Services took the kids away into foster care, eventually terminating her parental rights. Now, they want to terminate Felipe’s rights as well — and their reasons don’t amount to much more than that he lives in Mexico.

* Gothamist brought us the story of Pearlperry Reich: “A 30-year-old mother of four, aspiring model, and former member of Brooklyn’s Hasidic community is fighting for a divorce from her allegedly abusive husband and for custody of her children.”

Reich told the New York Post that her marriage, arranged when she was 18 years old, was abusive, and that she is currently embroiled in a custody battle over the couple’s children. Both parties have taken to Facebook to make their respective cases.

* El Diario spoke to Hondurans living in the United States about the prison fire that killed more than 350 inmates in Honduras last week.

Valladares Luis Valenzuela, director of the Long Island Immigrant Alliance,  assessed the reaction of the Honduran community in New York to the tragedy.

“People are still in shock and more concerned with digesting what happened than who to blame,” said Valenzuela. “We can only say that we sympathize with all families who have lost loved ones and we cry with them.”

* The Jewish Week is crowd-sourcing some of its Passover coverage. Here’s their call for Passover stories:

Do you have a poignant or amusing story of a first seder, the first time you led a seder, the family’s first seder after a death in the family, the first time after you converted to Judaism, the first time after you kashered your home, etc.?

Send your stories to staff writer Steve Lipman at steve@jewishweek.org.

* Filipino Reporter ran an update on Jose Antonio Vargas, the journalist who revealed himself as an undocumented immigrant in an essay in The New York Times Magazine:

He said last Monday at the University of Florida that a number of immigration lawyers advised him against writing the piece, but he felt he needed to speak out.

“I don’t know if we can really afford to be silent anymore about this issue,” he said.

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