Canadians accused of trafficking Mexican children

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Subject: Canadians accused of trafficking Mexican children
From: Bruce Harris - Casa Alianza (
Date: Thu Feb 03 2000 - 15:24:48 EST

Mexican group accuses
                       B.C. couple of
                       smuggling children to
                       Documents suspect: Five children
                       have no status here

                       Marina Jimenez
                       National Post

                       A Mexican children's
                       organization has accused a
                       Vancouver couple of smuggling
                       five children into Canada, after
                       discovering that the information
                       on their Mexican birth
                       certificates is false.

                       The children, who now range in
                       age from seven to 11, were
                       brought into Canada as
                       newborns and currently live in
                       White Rock with the couple,
                       who operate an adult video store
                       in Vancouver.

                       Mexico's ministry for children has asked Canadian
                       authorities to clarify the status of the children,
                       stating that they "appear to have been adopted in an
                       irregular fashion," according to a letter sent last
                       month to Stanley Gooch, Canada's ambassador to

                       "We want to find the children's real parents. There
                       was no process of adoption and we don't know if
                       these kids were robbed from Mexico," says Juan
                       Manuel Estrada, the director of Mexico's
                       Foundation for Lost and Stolen Children (FIND).

                       The case has been investigated by several
                       government agencies in Canada, including B.C.'s
                       Ministry for Children and Family Services, who
                       are trying to locate the children's biological parents
                       in Mexico.

                       "The information in the birth certificates is false
                       and we have asked Mexican child welfare
                       authorities to identify who these children are and to
                       find out if there is a family member who wants to
                       care for them," said Ross Dawson, the ministry's
                       director of child protection.

                       Mr. Dawson said the children are well cared for by
                       the Canadian couple, and "fully integrated" into life
                       here, as "Canadian" as native-born children.

                       However, the five have no immigration status in
                       Canada and the parents are not legally considered
                       to be their guardians, according to Mr. Dawson.

                       Although the story has received no attention in
                       Canada, Reforma, a newspaper in Mexico, where
                       child-trafficking is a multi-million-dollar business,
                       has covered it extensively.

                       The White Rock couple, who are not being
                       identified to protect the identity of the children,
                       arrived from Mexico with two of the newborns in
                       1990. According to Reforma, they told authorities
                       they were the couple's illegitimate sons.

                       Later, authorities found two more Mexican boys
                       and a girl in the home. The couple told authorities
                       the children had been given to them by a Canadian
                       friend who could no longer care for them.

                       In 1995, the couple tried to legally adopt these
                       three children, but neither the authenticity of the
                       birth certificates nor the identity of the parents
                       could be confirmed and the adoption was rejected.
                       The landed immigrant status for the first two
                       children was also revoked.

                       The status of all five children is now in limbo, said
                       Mr. Dawson.

                       "There is no clarity as to who parented the children
                       or how they came to Canada. We can't recommend
                       adoption until we trace the parents," said Mr.

                       The RCMP has investigated the case, but laid no
                       charges because of a lack of evidence, said
                       Constable Dave Rasmussen, with the immigration
                       and passport unit.

                       Immigration authorities said privacy legislation
                       precludes them from commenting on the case.

                       But Jo Ann Carmichael, the lawyer representing the
                       couple, said the family is trying to "formalize the
                       parenting arrangement" of the children in court.

                       "I cannot comment on the smuggling allegations,"
                       she said. "I can say the children are happy, healthy,
                       well-loved and in a secure home."

                       Mr. Dawson said he met with the Mexican
                       consulate last week to discuss how to remedy the
                       situation in the event no family members in Mexico
                       can be located.

                       Nearly 250 Mexican children have been adopted in
                       Canada since 1990, the majority of them in Quebec,
                       according to Mr. Estrada, who plans to investigate
                       all those cases and verify their legitimacy. He is
                       currently trying to repatriate 17 Mexican babies
                       adopted illegally in the U.S.

                       Mr. Estrada is convinced the B.C. case amounts to
                       child smuggling.

                       "I am worried there are more cases like this in
                       Canada. It doesn't matter that the children are well
                       cared for," he said. "The point is the kids were
                       taken from Mexico illegally and the parents lied."

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"In their little worlds in which children have their existence,
there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt,
as injustice...."

Charles Dickens, "Great Expectations"

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