In a highly unusual decision, the federal immigration enforcement agency, ICE, has granted a deported father temporary permission to enter the U.S. so that he can attend a court hearing regarding on his parental rights and the custody of his three young children. Yesterday, Felipe Bautista Montes walked out of the airport in Charlotte, N.C., and made his way to Sparta, the town where he lived for nearly a decade with his wife, Marie Montes, where his kids were born, and where the children now live in foster homes.
Montes was deported from his home nearly two years ago following repeated stops for driving without a license. After his deportation, Marie Montes, fell on hard times, struggling with mental health and addiction issues, and the local child welfare department removed the children from her custody, placing them in foster care.
Montes wants his children to be reunified with him in Mexico, where he’s lived since he was deported. But the Alleghany County child welfare department argues that the U.S. citizen children will be better off in the U.S., in the custody of non-relatives.
Following national and international media attention and the collection of over 20,000 signatures on a petition calling for the family’s reunification, the Mexican Consulate in North Carolina hired a private law firm to apply to ICE for what’s called Humanitarian Parole, or permission to enter the United States. Last week, the Mr. Montes received a call telling him that he’d been granted permission to attend his custody hearing.