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Canada Responds to Florida Child Custody Dispute with Deportation

The maternal grandparents of two young children were awarded temporary child custody over them in 2004, when a Florida court deemed that outcome to be in their best interests after both parents had abandoned them.

According to Florida court documents, the children's mother made strong and sustained efforts at self-improvement following the court order, to such a degree that it was changed in April of this year, with her getting custody back.

That was not a result that the grandparents were willing to live with. On May 20, the day they were scheduled to return the children back to their mother, they entered Canada with them instead, in clear violation of the court order.

Their brief sojourn in Canada ended last week, after the couple and children -- a nine-year-old boy and 11-year-old girl -- were found in a parking lot outside a Walmart store in Estevan, Saskatchewan. The grandparents were immediately brought before officials from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, which ordered them deported back to the United States pursuant to a Florida warrant charging them with concealing a minor contrary to a court order. Canadian privacy law precludes the release of information regarding children in such disputes, but it is assumed they were returned to their mother in Florida.

The detention hearing was emotional, with the grandmother stating that the children were not adequately fed or clothed when living with their parents in earlier years. "As sure as I am sitting in this chair, those two children will die within a year," she said.

Canadian officials replied emphatically that the matter is not within their purview or jurisdiction, but a dispute to be resolved in Florida.

"Canada has no interest in being involved in your custody dispute," said a Canadian immigration official. "Your fight is not here."

Related Resource: CTV News, "Fla. pair to be deported after bringing grandkids north" June 9, 2011

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