Charities Can Reject Foster Parents for Immigrant Kids Over Religion

Private charities housing undocumented immigrant children in several states are permitted by law to reject prospective foster families based on religious objections.

Under current policy, undocumented minors apprehended by Customs and Border Protection are sent to the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Health and Human Services. From there ORR tries to place the kids with a sponsor, usually a relative. The last option is a “licensed program willing to accept legal custody; or an adult individual or entity seeking custody.”

Right now, HHS oversees more than 100 shelters in 17 states, a number of which are operated by nonprofit providers housing kids separated at the border by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. In nine states, providers are protected by law if they reject an applicant (or child) on religious grounds.

In Texas, Republican-sponsored legislation passed last year guarantees organizations that refuse prospective foster or adoptive parents “under circumstances that conflict with the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs,” won’t be penalized or lose government funding because of it.

When adoption attorney James Greenberg’s client, a single woman from the Northeast, found a child in the Texas foster care system that she wanted to adopt, she applied with a private Christian agency there. (Greenberg said the child was not an immigrant caught in the current crackdown.)

“The agency would not entertain her application, they wouldn’t take on my client,” Greenberg told The Daily Beast. “I remember I inquired why, and the entity indicated that they don’t take single women.”

Greenberg, who was born in Bogota, Colombia to a Catholic mother and raised by an adoptive Jewish family in the New York suburbs, believes there was another motivation at play with the faith-based agency, which he declined to name.

“I think that Texas is homophobic and the immediate assumption is, if someone’s single, that they’re gay,” he said, adding that most of his single clients no longer bother trying to adopt there.

For at least the past few years, a Texas nonprofit now looking after separated immigrant children has said on its website that all foster parents “must attend a Christian church.”

Read the full story at The Daily Beast

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