Though the HHS and DHS have bungled the reunification effort beyond comprehension, the blame ultimately lies with the Trump White House. Officials were well aware that the “zero tolerance” policy would result in family separation, but no consideration was given as to how to reunite parents with their children. Federal agencies tasked with cleaning up the mess caused by the administration’s recklessness have been overwhelmed and underprepared. The system at the border wasn’t designed to hold unaccompanied toddlers in custody, and no apparatus was put in place for reuniting scared children with parents who may have been deported, may have been released into the United States or may still be in custody.” (A)
“The government’s top health official could barely conceal his discomfort.
As Health and Human Services secretary, Alex Azar was responsible for caring for migrant children taken from their parents at the border. Now a Democratic senator was asking him at a hearing whether his agency had a role in designing the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that caused these separations.
The answer was no.
“We deal with the children once they’re given to us,” responded Azar. “So we don’t — we are not the experts on immigration.”
Separating families while sidelining the agency responsible for caring for the children was only one example of a communication breakdown in the federal government that left immigrant children in limbo, parents in the dark about their whereabouts and enraged Americans across the country.
Today, the Trump administration is still dealing with the fallout: It’s still not clear how officials will implement the policy or comply with a court order requiring that families be reunited within 30 days.
Instead, the administration is hoping Congress will fix the mess, despite its recent failure to pass immigration legislation.
“We are happy to change the policy when Congress gives us the tools to do it. That’s what we’re asking for,” Marc Short, White House director of legislative affairs, said on MSNBC.” (B)
“Federal officials are struggling to reunite migrant children with their families despite a court deadline, and agencies do not have the resources or procedures to help thousands of children detained at the border back into the arms of their parents, according to a dozen current and former officials, advocates and experts.
With a July 10 deadline looming, staffers at the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the division within HHS that oversees the care of unaccompanied children, have received no instructions on how to proceed, the sources say.
“It’s been really difficult to start the reunification process because we just don’t have a lot of direction from leadership,” said one official at the refugee office, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “That’s been slowing things up, because there’s just been a lot of confusion.”
U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw ruled last week that the Trump administration had until July 10 to reunite migrant children under 5 with their parents, and until July 26 to reunite the rest. But the refugee office is still struggling to answer basic questions such as how many children in its custody were separated from their parents.” (C)
“One thing that has been the case for many, many years that is particularly problematic as it relates to reuniting families is that ICE tends to move people in its custody frequently. In the time that a parent is in ICE custody, he or she might be in four different facilities in very, very different parts of the country, moved with no warning, without having any sort of attorney that’s tracking their whereabouts. I am familiar with an attorney who was representing an ICE detainee who couldn’t locate their own client. This has been a common practice within ICE. I am trying to facilitate communication right now between a dad and his daughter. He has already been in a couple of different facilities and doesn’t have anyone that is representing him, and therefore his daughter, who is currently across the country from where he is located, hasn’t been able to get in touch with him. She has a caseworker through the Office of Refugee Resettlement who has called ICE multiples times, left ICE multiple messages, and nobody has called back.” (D)
“Relatives of migrant children who were separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border are being forced to cover huge airfare costs in order to be reunited…
But for a migrant child to leave one of these facilities, parents and other relatives are required to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to cover the one-way plane ticket and a return ticket for an adult escort, according to report from The New York Times.
Marlon Parada, a construction worker in California, was told by authorities his cousin’s 14 year-old-daughter, who was separated from her mother at the border, couldn’t travel by bus and instead he had to pay the $1,800 airfares from Houston to Los Angeles. “They notified me a day before her release,” Parada told The Times. “I had no choice.”..
But the recent separation of migrant families has meant parents are often still being held in detention. It is now falling to relatives, many who earn just a few hundred dollars a week, to use their savings or rely on donations to be able to have the children released into their custody…
Aside from airfares, The Times also reported that all family members who will live in the home of a migrant child are also being forced to provide fingerprints to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).” (E)
“After a court order to reunite more than 2,000 migrant children who were separated from their parents in May and June, the Trump administration has instructed immigration agents to give those parents two options: leave the country with your kids — or leave the country without them, according to a copy of a government form obtained by NBC News.
The new instructions to agents do not allow parents who were separated from their children under President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy to reunite with their children while they await a decision on asylum, a protection sought by thousands of migrant families fleeing violence in Central America.
Advocates say that even migrants who have already passed their initial asylum screenings are being presented with the form. “We are seeing cases where people who have passed credible fear interviews and have pending asylum claims are being given this form,” said Lee Gelernt, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union who is leading a class action lawsuit for family reunification.” (F)
(A) Meanwhile, at the Border, Migrant Families Are Still Separated, by Ryan Bort, https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/family-separation-stats-
(B)Trump administration agencies confused over border separations, by Jae C. Hong,https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/trump-administration-agencies-confused-over-border-separations-n888276
(C) As deadline looms, Trump officials struggle to reunite migrant families, by TED HESSON and DAN DIAMOND, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/07/child-separation-now-why-its-still-so-difficult-for-immigrant-families-to-be-reunited.html
(D) “This Entire System Is Designed to Make Things Impossible for Immigrants”, by ISAAC CHOTINER, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/07/child-separation-now-why-its-still-so-difficult-for-immigrant-families-to-be-reunited.html
(E) Immigrant families are being forced to pay massive airfares to reunite with children separated by the Trump administration, by Tara Francis Chan,
(F) New Trump admin order for separated parents: Leave U.S. with kids or without them, by Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/new-trump-admin-order-separated-parents-leave-u-s-kids-n888631