A group of deported parents who have been separated from their children for as long as 14 months returned to the U.S.-Mexico border this past weekend in hopes of being able to reunite with their precious loved ones.
The 29 parents, aided by advocacy groups Al Otro Lado, Families Belong Together, and Together Rising, had spent the last month journeying north. They’re among the hundreds of parents who were deported without their kids by the Trump administration. “Many of the parents, like José Ottoniel, from the tiny town of San Rafael Las Flores, Guatemala, said they had been pressured into signing deportation papers after being separated from their children, before they could begin their asylum claims,” the Washington Post reported.
Some parents have made the difficult decision to keep their children in the U.S., asking for them to be placed with relatives already living here. Other kids are with foster families. Some are still in a children’s detention center. A mother among the group of parents “explained through tears how her daughter had tried to kill herself while in government custody.” The parents are now hoping for a renewed chance at asylum, which will no doubt prove to be challenge.
From the start, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials tried to block them, claiming the Calexico port of entry couldn’t process them. Bullshit: It’s ridiculous that a government agency with an annual budget in the billions can’t process 29 parents. CBP “continuously lies about capacity at southern ports of entry,” tweeted one immigration lawyer, “in order to violate the laws of our country which allow people to apply for asylum. It’s time for some accountability.”
The groups aiding the parents made a social media push for phone calls to CBP, and after ten hours, all had been allowed to pass through to make their claims. “Time doesn’t matter,” said one dad, Neri. “Our love for our child has no price.” Now that parents have been allowed through, advocates say the next step is to make sure they aren’t locked up in detention.
These parents and kids aren’t alone. More than 220 days past a federal judge’s reunification deadline, children stolen from families at the southern border remain in U.S. custody. This doesn’t even include the potentially thousands of children that were separated before the official implementation of the barbaric “zero tolerance” policy. Family separation remains a crisis.
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