Things That Matter

Migrant Families Are Still Being Ripped Apart At The Border As Parents Are Sent Back To Wait In Mexico

The end of year holidays are generally a joyous time to spend with your loved ones. In some cases, they are the perfect push one needs to reconnect with a estranged relative or friend. It is a time to be together, hold your little mijos or sobrinos tight and perhaps spend one last New Year’s with an old abuelita who might not be here next time around. However, for many migrant and asylum-seeking families who fail in their attempt to enter the United States this is not an option. 

Family separation at the border has been a very contentious issue during the Trump administration, as opponents to this measure say that it is simply wrong and inhumane, while supporters provide the simplistic assumption that detained migrants get what they deserve because no one asked them to try to enter the United States. Legal battles have been waged and pundits on both sides of the immigration debate have taken their gloves off. Now a recent investigation has revealed that misinformation has effectively altered the lives of migrants, for the worse. 

The investigation revealed that bad info has led migrants to nightmarish situation in which parents and children are separated.

Credit: Manuel Ortega-Ruiz / Getty

Adolfo Flores over at BuzzFeed went to the border town of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, in Mexico to inteview asylum seekers who had been separated from their families. As he interviewed them a constant theme emerged: bad information is leading the authorities to take kids off their parents, who are then sent to Mexico even if they originally come from thousands of miles south in Central America.

Such is the case of one Miguel, and Honduran asylum-seeker whose son Francisco was taken by Border Patrol in August. Francisco was only 12-years-old. Miguel hasn’t seen him since then and the only thing he was told by an agent was “Your son can’t go where we’re taking you. We’re taking him to a safe place”. Can you imagine the pain this causes? We simply cannot.

Parents are being sent to Mexico to wait until their cases in the US are resolved: 60,000 have been sent south of the border during the Trump administration.

Credit: Denver Journal of International Law & Policy

Talk about a state of cruel purgatory. As reported by Flores, Miguel and Francisco “are now caught in the middle of the government’s continued separation of families at the border and a Trump administration policy, known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), that has sent thousands of immigrants to wait in Mexico while their US cases are completed”. This is simply inhumane. The Mexican government of course shares some responsibility as the Lopez Obrador administration has been extra accommodating to Trump’s demands much to the disdain of human rights activists… and pretty much any human with a heart and a little bit of compassion in their veins. 

Once in Mexico, often in unsafe and unfamiliar locations such as Reynosa, parents try to find legal help to get their children back.

Miguel believes that his case is mired with misinformation and that this complicates his prospects. He is waiting in the city of Reynosa, perhaps one of the most dangerous in Mexico. In Reynosa and other border cities, an emerging legal industry is aiding migrants. However, it is possible that lawyers are also taking advantage of them. Added to this, the population is developing a xenophobia against Central American migrants as the number of asylum seekers sent to Mexico rises.

As reported by Flores, cases like Miguel’s highlight how this policies “sometimes based on incomplete or misleading information, leaves an unknown number of desperate parents and guardians at a loss to know how to get their children back while holed up in dangerous locations in Mexico”. Just close your eyes and try to imagine the desperation and utter despair of now knowing where your children or siblings are, if they are sick, if they are eating. 

Many of the stories are heartbreaking.

Credit: Daniel Noriega / Slate

Many of the cases need to be read to be believed. As reported by Flores: “A complaint filed by the Women’s Refugee Commission in August with two DHS watchdog agencies detailed 20 cases where families were separated by CBP at the border and at least some members were sent back to Mexico under MPP.”

There is a Guatemalan man who speaks almost no Spanish and whose son was taken by Border Patrol solely based on the belief that the birth certificate was fake. A Salvadorian young woman who had been taking care of her siblings after their mother was murdered was separated from them even if custody had been granted in El Salvador. And the list goes on and on. 

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Biden Administration Says Number Of Kids In Border Custody Drops 84% Over Last Month

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Biden Administration Says Number Of Kids In Border Custody Drops 84% Over Last Month

As recently as last month more than 5,000 children languished in jail-like conditions inside U.S. Border Patrol facilities, often for longer than the 72-hour limit set by federal law. But, according to the Biden administration, that number has dropped by 84% as the agencies charged with migrant detention make significant progress.

Questions remain, however, about where these children are being sent to instead and why there remains a need for jail-like conditions in the first place.

The number of kids in jail-like Border Patrol facilities drops 84% compared to March.

The number of unaccompanied migrant children held in jail-like conditions by US Customs and Border Protection dropped nearly 84% in the span of a month, according to a White House official. As of last Wednesday, there were 954 children in CBP facilities, down from a peak of 5,767 on March 28, the official told CNN.

The average time that kids are in CBP custody is now 28 hours, compared to 133 hours on March 28, the official said, a nearly 80% reduction in time spent in Border Patrol detention.

In an interview with NBC News this week, Biden suggested that the situation with unaccompanied children is now under control, saying, “It’s way down now. We’ve now gotten control,” and touted “significant change in the circumstances for children to and at the border.”

In recent weeks, the Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for the care of migrant children, has opened up a string of temporary shelters to accommodate minors. That’s allowed for an increasing number of children being transferred out of border facilities to spaces equipped to care for them at a quicker pace.

The drop in children in custody is a welcome sign given the conditions they faced.

In some cases, children were alternating schedules to make space for one another in confined facilities and taking turns showering, often going days without one, while others hadn’t seen the sunlight in days.

While the administration works to address root causes of migration, it’s also had to contend with growing numbers of children in government custody. As of April 27, there were more than 22,276 children in HHS care, according to government data.

Biden on NBC again warned Central American parents against sending children to the US.”Do not send your kids, period. They’re most — they’re in jeopardy going– making that thousand-mile trek,” Biden said. “And so what we’re doing now is we’re going back to those countries in question where most of it’s coming from and saying, ‘Look, you can apply from your country. You don’t have to make this trek.”

The shift in strategy comes as a new poll shows Americans overwhelmingly support new immigration policy.

A vast majority of Americans approve of the idea of engaging countries abroad to address the causes of migration before it happens, according to a new nationwide poll released Thursday.

Pollster Civiqs found that 85 percent of survey respondents agreed that the United States needs to engage with other countries to address migration patterns.

On a partisan basis, 86 percent of Democrats and 87 percent of Republicans, as well as 81 percent of independents, agree with that approach, according to Civiqs, which conducted the poll for Immigration Hub, a progressive immigration advocacy group.

The poll found that 57 percent of Americans accept illegal immigration when the immigrants are fleeing violence in their home countries.

That support is lower for undocumented immigrants who come for other reasons; 46 percent agree with immigrants arriving illegally to escape poverty or hunger, while 36 percent do if the migrants are seeking to reunite with family members, and 31 percent do if the migrants are looking for jobs in the United States.

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Three Years After Traumatic Deportation, Alejandra Juarez Will Be Reunited With Her Family

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Three Years After Traumatic Deportation, Alejandra Juarez Will Be Reunited With Her Family

Scenes of her traumatic deportation made headlines around the world as she was forced to say goodbye to her husband (a U.S. veteran) and children back in 2018. Now, Alejandra Juarez is headed back to the United States just in time to celebrate Mother’s Day with her family.

Alejandra Juarez is back with her family three years after her very public and traumatic deportation to Mexico.

The wife of a U.S. Marine veteran, Alejandra Juarez’s deportation to Mexico made international headlines as she was forced to say goodbye to her husband and daughters at Orlando International Airport back in 2018. Many Americans found her story to be so powerful since she was married to a retired U.S. Marine, Cuauthemoc ‘Temo’ Juarez and each of her children are U.S. citizens. Not to mention Juarez had been living in the United States since she was 18 years old.

Since her deportation in 2018, Juarez has been living in Mexico but will be allowed to return to Florida – where her family is located – within the next couple of days. Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security granted Juarez humanitarian parole

Juarez is the wife of a U.S. Marine veteran whose traumatic deportation scene at Orlando International Airport in 2018 made headlines worldwide. On Monday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security granted her a temporary reprieve known as humanitarian parole. Humanitarian parole allows entry to the country “due to an emergency” for someone who is otherwise not allowed to be in the country.

“This is the moment I’ve been waiting for,” Juarez told the Orlando Sentinel in an exclusive interview. “Once inside, I’m going to keep fighting and hopefully there’s a way I can find a permanent solution, but this is great!”

The emergency order allows Juarez to remain in the country until she finds a solution.

Florida Rep. Darren Soto (D) has been an advocate on behalf of the Juarez family and even joined Alejandra during her tearful goodbye to her family at the Orlando Airport.

According to report by the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, Soto said that his staff had sent a letter to his contacts at the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and ICE officials, hoping they would reopen her case.

Around the same time, President Biden entered office and overturned the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy which had led to Alejandra’s deportation order. It’s also worth mentioning that Alejandra’s husband had voted for Donald Trump during the 2016 election without ever thinking that his wife could be targeted for deportation.

Congressman Soto has been a fighter for Alejandra while she’s been more than 700 miles away in Mexico and is proud to see justice for the Juarez family.

“When President Biden was elected, we knew there was a new hope of bringing her back,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. “But it was Alejandra overall, who showed the tenacity and determination to stop at nothing to get back to her family.”

Juarez’s story further captured our hearts and minds as part of a Netflix series.

Despite being hundreds of miles apart, the Juarez family has not remained silent. In fact, Alejandra’s story was told as part of the Netflix documentary series Living Undocumented. Juarez, along with seven other immigrants, clips of interviews with Juarez and Estela, 10, who talks about President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy on deporting those in the country without permission.

“He was going to deport criminals, but my mom is not a criminal,” Estela says. “She’s a military wife.”

And daughter Estela even took her mother’s case to the presidential campaign, when she read a powerful letter to then-President Donald Trump detailing her mother’s case and the agony her family has suffered. Thankfully, now, the family will soon be reunited just in time to celebrate Mother’s Day together.

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