HOUSTON, Texas–A young native Honduran girl whose mother was gunned down in the streets of Houston was taken into Child Protective Services (CPS) custody after her mother’s death. Both the girl and her mother were in the country illegally. This week, the 7-year-old girl was returned to her father in Honduras. Relatives in the U.S. were afraid they might end up like the child’s mother and were not willing to take the girl. Rumors of a drug cartel related death made them hesitant to do so.
The 7-year-old has been in a CPS foster home during the last six months. Her mother, 24-year-old Yolibeth Perez, was gunned down on January 22nd while walking to pick up the little girl from Emerson Elementary School. Perez was gunned down by a man just a block from the school.
The Houston Chronicle reported that the young mother called law enforcement on December 12th and said someone shot at her and ran away. The Chronicle reported that Perez told her daughter and other family members that a masked woman had shot at her. The Houston Police Department determined that the story was “fabricated, possibly to assist [the mother] in her asylum claim.” Their investigation showed that her murder was related to a shooting in Sugarland, a City close to Houston.
CPS took Sheyli Galvez into custody in Harris County because there was a concern for her safety. The girl had been orphaned here and there were allegations of domestic violence and drugs.
It is the duty of CPS, legally titled the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS), to care for all children within its borders without regard to immigration status.
Breitbart Texas talked to CPS spokeswoman Estella Olguin who said the agency followed the Department’s policy and procedures. She said “We follow policy and we look to the best interest of the child and to the safest place for her.”
Texas law requires a judge to place a child with family unless it would not be safe or in the child’s best interest to do so. The girl was placed in a foster home because there were no relatives that would take her. CPS notified the Honduran Consulate pursuant to the international treaty Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
An attorney ad litem for the child was appointed to represent her best interest in court. The girl’s father, Rolvin Galvez, contacted authorities when he learned of the mother’s fate. The father wanted his daughter to live with him.
The Honduran Institute of Children and Family (the equivalent of CPS in Texas) did a Home Study on the father to determine if his home would be an appropriate and safe place for the girl. The Home Study was translated into English for the court in Texas.
Therapists worked with the child and found that she wanted to go home to her father. The girl had been having visits with her father on the phone. The therapist testified in court that the girl showed no anxiety after the telephone calls and it was in the girl’s best interest to have her returned to her father. The girl had lived with her mother and father in Honduras prior to coming to Texas with her mother.
Olguin said only a handful of children are repatriated every year but those who have been were not only from Central America and Mexico, but also France and other countries. If a child is not repatriated, it is because there is suitable family here in the States. When a child is repatriated, associated costs include airfare for the child to the native country, and a round-trip ticket for a CPS caseworker to accompany the child.
Houston CPS legal expert Valeria Brock told Breitbart Texas “It’s a great thing when you can do what is in the best interest of a particular child. That means the system is working.”
Olguin told Breitbart Texas that the Department will follow-up with photos of the girl reunited with her father.
Breitbart Texas has reported that the President from Honduras said illegal immigrants come to the United States because they are motivated by the hope of amnesty.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and a lawyer who has served as a family court associate judge and lawyer for TDFPS. She is a CPS expert. Follow her @LanaShadwick2.