Every child has a family and deserves to be safely and meaningfully connected with them. Families that live across a border are no exception. CASA volunteers and other advocates can help kids in the United States who have family in Mexico stay connected with these family members. How? By utilizing our unique partnership with the Consulates.
Read on to learn more!
In 2016, Texas CASA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Consulates of Mexico in Texas regarding their mutual collaboration in cases of Mexican minors or children of Mexican origin who are in the custody of Texas Child Protective Services. The goal of the MOU is to help every child benefit from the connections and support that family provides, regardless of whether the family resides in Mexico or the U.S. Regarding child welfare cases, the MOU allows the Consulates to:
- Locate family members in Mexico,
- Locate Mexican family members in the U.S.,
- Find birth certificates,
- Act as a cultural broker,
- Facilitate home studies when requested,
- Assist in the reunification process, and
- Provide mutual trainings.
The services the Mexican Consulates offer with the MOU are available to any CASA program or case in the CASA network in Texas.
How Does It Work?
Step 1: Complete the Mexican Consulate Referral Form: The referral form outlines what services the consulate offices have agreed to offer. The point person within your program for the case should complete the referral form, and the Program Director must sign off on it and attach the Court Order of Appointment for that specific case.
Step 2: Send the referral form to your local consulate office: Send (via fax or mail) the referral form to the attention of the Head of Protection at your local consulate office – you can find this information on the Mexican Consulate Map and Mexican Consulate Contacts spreadsheet.
Step 3: Report your referrals to Texas CASA: It is recommended to inform Texas CASA (email@example.com) of any referrals your program sent to the consulate to help us keep track of the need for these services.
You can learn more and find all of these documents in the Program Portal.
Why Is It Important?
“Searching for family in Mexico is just as important as searching for family in the U.S. because these are the people the kid is connected to. This is their family, and it’s the child’s right to know where they come from,” said Audrey Sherman, Texas CASA Collaborative Family Engagement Coach. “Someone living in another country is not a good enough reason to rule them out.”
Audrey recalled a past CASA case where the children were American citizens, but their father lived in Mexico. Thanks to the MOU, the CASA program was able to work with the consulate to contact the father and conduct a home study. Although they hadn’t lived with their father for a while, he was the best option for them. After CASA had many conversations with the dad, they decided it was in the kids’ best interest to relocate back to Mexico. The consulate also helped them get their dual citizenship.
Texas CASA Collaborative Family Engagement Coach Maria McCord works with CASA programs, children and families in the El Paso area.
“Many times we work with kids whose first language is Spanish. They deserve to be with their families. They deserve to be with people who know them, who love them, who share their same language, culture, traditions, religions,” Maria said.
Every family deserves the same opportunities and chances at healthy reunification, whether the family resides here in the U.S. or in Mexico, and the most important thing is that the child is in a situation where they are loved, connected and safe.
“If you dismiss part of a child’s family, you’re basically telling the child, ‘That part of you is no good,’” Maria said. “We can’t use our biases and our own thought processes to not allow a family to go through their due process. Kids deserve to be with their families whenever safe and possible, regardless of what we think.”
If you have any questions about working with the Mexican consulates or finding and engaging families in Mexico, email firstname.lastname@example.org.