Photo: Skype Was Key to Deported Parents Getting Their Children Back
When Alfonso Mejia and Margarita Almaraz were deported from the U.S. and sent back to Mexico, their children, remained in America. The couple feared they may never be able to see their children again as the cost to hire a video conferencing facility in order to testify in the custody case was far more than they could afford.
In the end, the wonders of the internet helped reunite the family after the parents were allowed to testify in the case.
In 2009, Mejia and Almaraz were deported, and had been living in a low-income neighborhood just outside Mexico City without their children.
Ashley, 4, and Ashanti, 8, were kept from their deported parents after allegations arose in Pennsylvania that Mejia had abused two of Almaraz’s children from a previous relationship.
Lawyers assisting the parents in both the U.S. and Mexico say the allegations were never proven and were actually based on cultural misunderstandings.
The court proceedings were held in Pennsylvania and due to their status, is was near impossible to get back into the U.S. to testify, and video conference equipment was just too expensive an option.
Luckily, U.S. lawyer Deirdre Agnew helped convince a court in Chester County, Pennsylvania to allow the parents to testify via the increasingly popular Skype, which is a software application that allows users to make voice calls over the internet.
The parents were reunited with their children on Monday, after they proved they were fit parents.
The family had been apart for more than two years.
Mejia stated that he hoped their case’s use of Skype opens up the door for similar cases in which travel to the U.S. is simply not economically viable.
“I would like to make a call that this not only be a precedent, but that it be continued, to help us to make this a reality for other parents as well, so that they can be with their parents once again.”