Offbeat What happens after separated immigrant families are reunited
The Trump Administration Won't Say How Many Separated Children It's Still Holding. The Clock Is Ticking
It’s been nearly two weeks since President Donald Trump ordered the end to his administration’s policy of separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border – and the agency in charge of reuniting them won’t say how many of the children are still in its care. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told lawmakers last week that 2,047 separated minors were in the care of the agency’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). But when TIME reached out to HHS to see how many separated minors are still being cared for in HHS-funded facilities on Monday, a spokesperson would only say how many minors remain in their care, generally.
After a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to reunite the immigrant families it has separated, there's been a trickle ofof parents with their kids.
were separated from their parents as a result of the White House's immigration policy, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar estimated last week.The government how many of them were reunited with their parents, and officials have to meet one of the reunification deadlines.
For the parents and children who have been brought back together, thecelebrations may be short-lived. After reunification, they face a series of other obstacles -- including long, complex legal proceedings, and possibly deportation. For children, the trauma of being separated from their parents will be long-lasting. Some families are only partially reunified; a child may be returned to his mother, for instance, while his father remains in detention.
Los Angeles adds $10M to aid separated migrant children
The city of Los Angeles has approved $10 million in funding for legal aid for immigrant children separated from their families at the southern border. ABC News reported that the Los Angeles City Council and county Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to add $10 million the LA Justice Fund, a public-private partnership established last year to help immigrants facing deportation proceedings.The development comes as the Trump administration continues to weather heightened scrutiny for its zero-tolerance immigration policy, despite efforts by President Trump to quell backlash over the separation of immigrant families.
Here's a look at some of the situations that families might face even after being reunited.
A long, arduous fight to stay in the United States
Once immigrant parents are released from detention and reunited with their children, the next step for many of them is fighting to stay in the United States. Most immigrants coming from Central America are seeking asylum, and the court proceedings involved can be long, arduous and resource-intensive.
At the same time, they will also be dealing with adjusting to life in a new country, said Zenén Jaimes Pérez, the communications director for the Texas Civil Rights Project.
"The first time you saw this country, you might have been apprehended, in detention facilities, courtrooms or jails since you arrived, and all of a sudden you're out," Pérez said. "You have to find your way to your family. You have to get on a bus, you might have to get on a plane, you have to find a place to live. You might have to find a way to financially support yourself. All of those things are still factors and processes that all of these families have to go through."
Reuniting separated families: Why is it taking so long?
HOUSTON — The Trump administration hit a court-ordered deadline Tuesday to return immigrant children under the age of 5 to their parents, forcing the government to roll back many of the family separations that resulted from its "zero-tolerance" border enforcement policy. Last month, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw gave authorities 14 days to reunite parents with children under 5, and 30 days to reunite parents with all other children. Here are Last month, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw gave authorities 14 days to reunite parents with children under 5, and 30 days to reunite parents with all other children.
To claim asylum, a person has to prove they faced persecution at home because of their race, religion, national origin, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. That persecution can either be inflicted by the government or by individuals that the government can't or won't control.
In recent weeks, the Trump administration has made it harder for people to qualify for asylum. The administrationfor domestic violence and gang violence victims, which could prevent the tens and thousands of people who apply for asylum each year from staying in the United States.
One way migrants can claim asylum is by arguing they are in danger because they belong to a particular social group. In the past, some would argue that their family was being targeted, and that made them a member of a persecuted social group. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently questioned that reasoning in the.
Alex Azar: HHS performing act of 'generosity' for immigrant children
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that his department was performing "one of the great acts of American generosity and charity" in its care of immigrant children. Repeatedly pressed by CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room" about why HHS won't allow media cameras into facilities housing children, Azar said, "We have nothing to hide about how we operate these facilities." "It is one of the great acts of American generosity and charity, what we are doing for these unaccompanied kids who are smuggled into our country or come across illegally," Azar added.
And even if an applicant meets the requirements for asylum, Sessions argued that they should also have to prove why they deserve it.
Finally, the Justice Department isthat would prevent people who are convicted of illegally entering the United States from claiming asylum.
Reunited, then deported
For other immigrant families who were separated at the border, being reunited with their loved ones could be one of the final steps before they're deported -- in many cases, they're sent back to the samethey sought to escape. Many came to the United States fleeing gang violence, political instability, lack of economic opportunity or extreme poverty.
Once a judge orders that a parent be deported, the parentto either have their children leave with them or remain in the United States.
Federal officials are also giving parents the option ofto speed up their cases, even if other legal options are available. If they do so, they are told they will be reunited with their children before being deported.
Why the government missed the deadline to reunite immigrant families
WASHINGTON - Criminal background checks, DNA tests, deportations, illnesses and cumbersome communication between three federal government agencies and even more sub-agencies have delayed the reunification of immigrant families that were separated at the border. The Trump administration was supposed to reunite 102 children under age 5 with their parents by Tuesday, according to a deadline imposed by a federal judge in California. It still has not said how many were actually reunited, but figures released Tuesday indicated only four children had been reunited.U.S.
Advocacy groupsthat some parents don't understand what they're signing and aren't receiving adequate help to approach their legal situations. They also say there is no evidence to suggest that voluntary deportation is a faster way for parents to be reunited with their kids.
Doctors have called family separationAnd even if immigrant children are reunited with their parents, they're often left with lasting scars. That psychological and biological damage, professionals say, can't be erased.
Children experience toxic stress and trauma as a result of being separated from their parents, wrote Daniel P. Keating, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, in anHe said separation alters the way that children's brains work and can wreak havoc on their development.
"The core impacts of trauma and toxic stress include the disruption of their stress system, leading to lifelong behavioral problems, cognitive difficulties, chronic inflammation, impaired health, and even early death," Keating wrote. "Their attachment system will also be damaged, leading to persistent difficulties in making and sustaining successful relationships."
Many children in detention facilities show signs of separation anxiety even if their parents are around, Luis Zayas, dean of the school of social work at the University of Texas at Austin, told CNN. And because parents don't have control over their circumstances while in detention, children can become insecure about their parents' ability to protect them.
58 children reunited as government reconnects families
Fifty-eight immigrant children under the age of 5 have been reunited with their parents after being separated at the border, the Trump administration said in a Thursday evening filing. That was one more than the government had announced earlier in the day. The new tally comes as part of a class action lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union filed against the administration.Though the deadline for reuniting children under 5 has passed, in two weeks the government will need to reunite thousands more children aged 5 to 17 to meet the judge's next deadline.
So far, parents who have been reunited with their kids say they have not received any warnings from the federal government on how to deal with the trauma that their children may now be experiencing, nor guidance on how to talk to their kids about what they endured.
Olivia Caceres, an immigrant from El Salvador, already sees the impact that separation has taken on her son. She, her partner and their two sons left El Salvador together, but had to split up when her younger child became ill. She and her older son continued on to the border, while her partner and her younger son arrived later. Caceres soon learned that her younger son was separated from his father at the border.
She said that her sonsince they were reunited.
"I thought that, because he is so young he would not be traumatized by this experience, but he does not separate from me. He cries when he does not see me. That behavior is not normal," she said in court documents.
Other families might still end up being separated
In late June, President Trump signed anhalting his administration's practice of separating families at the border. Instead, going forward, the administration plans to detain children with their parents as the family's case is processed.
Trump's executive orderfamilies together indefinitely. But it could face legal challenges because of an existing court settlement that says children can't be kept in detention for more than 20 days.
So what would happen once those 20 days are up?
Families could be separated again.
"You reunite the family; a clock is ticking. If it goes beyond 20 days, you either release the entire family, which is similar to the Obama policy that the President wants to change," Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University,. "Or you once again separate the family and send the child into some type of custodial care."
Back with his son after 8 weeks, a migrant father tells separated families: 'Don't give up' .
Eris Hidalgo Ramirez of Honduras was reunited with his 5-year-old son Saturday after 8 weeks apart. Now he tells other separated migrant families not to give up hope of seeing their children again. "I never gave up hope that I would see Jostin again," Ramirez said. "While I was in detention I felt so helpless.
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