Tell Your Representatives to Make These Legislative Changes!

Protecting children and the families they love…

1. Children of tribal heritage should be guaranteed protection equal to that of any other child in the United States. (ftn4) (ftn5)

a) Children should never be moved suddenly from a home that is safe, loved, and where they are emotionally, socially and physically comfortable simply because their care-givers are not of a certain heritage. The best interest of the child should be considered first, above the needs of the tribal community.
b) State health and welfare requirements for foster and adoptive children should apply equally to all. If there is proven evidence of emotional and/or physical neglect, the state has an obligation to that child’s welfare and should be held accountable if the child is knowingly or by Social Service neglect left in unsafe conditions. (ftn5 – Title 42 U.S.C 1983)

2. Fit parents, no matter their heritage, have the right to choose healthy guardians or adoptive parents for their children without concern for heritage and superseding wishes of tribal government. US Supreme Court decisions upholding family autonomy under 5th and 14th Amendment due process and equal protection include Meyer vs. Nebraska (ftn8), Pierce v. Society of Sisters (ftn9), and Brown v. Board of Education (ftn10).

3. The “Existing Indian Family Doctrine” must be available to families and children that choose not to live within the reservation system.

a) In re Santos Y, (ftn5) the court found “Application of the ICWA to a child whose only connection with an Indian tribe is a one-quarter genetic contribution does not serve the purpose for which the ICWA was enacted…” Santos y quoted from Bridget R.’s due process and equal protection analysis at length. Santos also states, Congress considered amending the ICWA to preclude application of the “existing Indian family
doctrine” but did not do so.”
b) In Bridget R., (ftn6) the court stated, “if the Act applies to children whose families have no significant relationship with Indian tribal culture, such application runs afoul of the Constitution in three ways:

– it impermissibly intrudes upon a power ordinarily reserved to the states,

– it improperly interferes with Indian children’s fundamental due process rights respecting family relationships; and

– on the sole basis of race, it deprives them of equal opportunities to be adopted that are available to non-Indian children and exposes them…to having an existing non-Indian family torn apart through an after the fact assertion of tribal and Indian-parent rights under ICWA”.

c) In re Alexandria Y. (ftn7), the court held that “recognition of the existing Indian family doctrine [was] necessary to avoid serious constitutional flaws in the ICWA” and held that the trial court had acted properly in refusing to apply ICWA “because neither [child] nor [mother] had any significant social, cultural, or political relationship with Indian life; thus, there was no existing Indian family to preserve.” Question: If current ICWA case law includes many situations where existing Family Doctrine has already been ignored, then have serious constitutional flaws already
occurred?

More to come…

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