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PROBE: January 7, 2001

January 07, 2002

BORDER CUSTODY DISPUTES — Border custody disputes can work both ways. My wife, a U.S. citizen, married and divorced a Mexican national.

Two years ago we were visiting in Mexicali when four police cars surrounded the house. About 10 police officers rushed into the house and grabbed my wife's 9-year-old daughter, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

That was 26 months ago and my wife has not seen her daughter since that day. We have had three Mexican attorneys but the judge overseeing the case will not budge. We appealed to the American consulate in Tijuana. It says there is nothing it can do.

My wife is in a deep depression because she can't get her daughter back — or even see her. The child has not been to school since the Mexican police grabbed her and she's getting no medical treatment. If my wife had her child here, she would be eligible for good schooling and excellent medical care.

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I think it would help my wife to talk to others who may have gone through the same experience. They could tell us how they coped and if they found any effective way to reclaim a child lost in the Mexican legal system. — Frustrated Stepfather, San Diego

OK, PROBE readers, if you have any ideas to share with the above parent, you can call him at (619) 948-4006 or email him at jgutierr@cvesd.k12.ca.us

If you have any great ideas, call us at 337-3439. This is an ongoing problem that we don't know much about but we're willing to learn. Maybe we can learn together.

ACROSS THE LINE — The Mexican mother whose husband took her two children to the United States came to see us at the Mexican consulate in Calexico on Dec. 27. We are working on the case now.

We will give her legal advice. If she needs an attorney to file a petition for custody of her children, we will provide it.

We have many agreements with the U.S. covering trans-border custody disputes. Not returning a child after a court-ordered visit is a felony on both sides of the border. We take the welfare of children seriously in Mexico. — Mexican Consul Rita Vargas, Calexico

That's tough talk. Absconding with a child across an international border is a serious matter.

TOYS FOR SEELEY BOYS — At the Imperial County Sheriff's Office, we collected Christmas toys for poor children. We had some left over. We want to donate them to the three little boys who lost their Christmas gifts in the Seeley fire. We have enough to give each child three gifts.

I am going to call Gold Cross Ambulance. If that 9-year-old will be healthy enough to use it, we're going to get him a scooter. — Deputy, El Centro

Why don't you get him a scooter anyway? It will give him a goal to shoot at — and it might boost his morale. With him, his two brothers and his mother in the hospital, he must need some cheering up.

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