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Tue Mar 12, 2019, 11:46 AM

Native American child welfare case heads to appeals court

Source: Associated Press

Native American child welfare case heads to appeals court

By FELICIA FONSECA
March 12, 2019

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A federal law that gives preference to Native American families in foster care and adoption proceedings involving Native American children is facing the most significant legal challenge since it was enacted more than 40 years ago.

A federal judge in Texas ruled the Indian Child Welfare Act is unconstitutional, saying it is racially motivated and violates the equal protection clause.

More than 20 states have joined hundreds of tribes, advocacy groups and the federal agency overseeing Indian affairs in urging an appellate judge to uphold the law. They say tribes are a political classification, not a racial one, and overturning the Indian Child Welfare Act would lead to untold damage in tribal communities.

“The fear is without the statute, Indian children will once again sort of disappear into the child welfare system and be lost to their families and their tribes,” said Adam Charnes, who will present arguments on behalf of five intervening tribes before a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday.

The law has led to some emotional, high-profile cases, including one in 2016 in which a court ordered that a young Choctaw girl named Lexi be removed from a California foster family and placed with her father’s extended family in Utah. Images of the girl being carried away from her foster home drew widespread attention.

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Read more: https://apnews.com/21f54861d6384aa49306693f6ff56655

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