Things That Matter

More Than 200 Migrant Children Are Still Separated From Their Families Awaiting Asylum Requests

It’s been four months since a judge ordered the Trump administration to reunite separated families. However, 245 children are still in government custody, according to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Parents of 175 of the children in detention have been deported. Deported parents of 125 the children have decided not to seek reunification in their countries of origin, according to KTLA. Instead, the parents are telling their children stay in the United States to pursue asylum on their own.

Four months ago the ACLU sued the federal government over the family separations of 2,654 children. Yet many still remain separated.

The ACLU lawsuit called for the immediate reunification of all separated migrant families under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Though Trump signed an executive order ending his own policy after backlash, he has also implemented a new policy that detains entire families together.

“The Trump administration’s family separation policy was a failure of epic proportions. The courts and public clearly rejected it. The government should be putting all of its resources into reuniting kids who are still waiting — not going back to the drawing board to do further damage,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project said in a statement. “It is deeply disturbing that this administration continues to look for ways to cause harm to small children.”

A new government watchdog report shows that U.S. agencies were never told of or planned for the “zero tolerance” policy that separated families.

Homeland Security and Health and Human Services officials were unaware or not told in advance of the decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to implement the “zero tolerance” policy. The Government Accountability Office revealed these findings as news comes that President Trump has renewed his plans to stop the record number of migrant families entering the United States. He is considering launching a modified version of his family separation policy to deter migrants from crossing the border.

The report also shows that more than 2,654 children were separated from families between April and June 2018, when the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy was in full effect.

On average separated children have spent 154 days — about five months — in government custody.

The ACLU says that separated children were sent to 121 different detention or care centers in 17 states throughout the U.S. Sometimes they were sent hundreds or thousands of miles away from where their parents were being held. The largest chain of child detention centers are the Southwest Key facilities in Arizona, California, and Texas, where 1,091 (41 percent) of the children were detained. Many of the children (ages 5-17) were from South American countries with the biggest percentage coming from Guatemala at 55 percent and 33 percent from Honduras.

“The eventual reunification of these children and parents was, by all accounts, not a priority of those who designed and carried out the policy,” the ACLU wrote. “The ACLU has not undertaken an independent data investigation, and instead has had to rely on the numbers provided to us by the government. Thus, this data may well undercount the number of children who were separated or contain other gaps.”

The ACLU is set to begin its next set of hearings in front of a federal judge where this report will be a key part of the case.


READ: ICE Agents Returned An Undocumented Immigrant’s Wallet And Then Promptly Arrested Him

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10-Year-Old Boy Found Crying Alone Near Border Had Been Deported And Kidnapped With His Mom

Things That Matter

10-Year-Old Boy Found Crying Alone Near Border Had Been Deported And Kidnapped With His Mom

Anyone who has watched this video of a 10-year-old boy asking a Border Patrol officer for help through tears, can admit just how heartbreaking it is. The boy says he was left alone while traveling with a group across the border when they abandoned him.

But now his family is speaking out and sharing the backstory to the emotional video that further highlights just how urgently the crisis at the border needs to be addressed.

Video of a 10-year-old boy wandering near the border quickly went viral for how heartbreaking it was.

A heartbreaking video shared last week by Customs and Border Protection of an unnamed 10-year-old boy found wandering alone in Texas underscored how desperate the situation is on the southern border. The video showed a young Nicaraguan boy found on the side of a dirt road by an off-duty Border Patrol agent after wandering alone for four hours in the desert.

People reports that U.S. Customs and Border Protection released footage of the incident, which happened on April 1 by a Rio Grande border patrol agent. The boy explains to the officer that he woke up and discovered that his group had left him behind. “I came looking because I didn’t know where to go, and they can also rob or kidnap me or something,” he told the officer. 

In a statement to the publication, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the agent “transported the child to a Border Patrol facility where he was fed and medically screened.”

But now we’re getting a better understanding of what led to this heartbreaking video.

Now, the boy’s family have described his plight to the Washington Post. Little 10-year-old Wilton Obregon and his mom crossed the border into Texas last month but were expelled under Title 42, a policy that releases migrants back to Mexico without letting them seek asylum.

Hours after they were sent back, they were kidnapped, according to Wilton’s Miami-based uncle, Misael Obregon. The kidnappers called him and demanded a $10,000 ransom but Misael could only pay $5,000 so the kidnappers only released Wilton. They dumped Wilton back at the border. Obregon said his sister is still in custody of the kidnappers. “Now I’m worried that she’s going to die,” he said.

In fact, the boys mom called Misael Obregon on Friday morning, crying after seeing the video of her son crying at the border.

The family’s plight highlights the need for reforms to Title 42.

During the campaign, President Biden complained about the humanitarian consequences of the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forced asylum seekers to wait for the their court hearings in Mexico. Many were forced to wait in dangerous refugee camps along the border that subjected them to human trafficking, violence, and sexual assault.

Under Title 42, though, which began under President Donald Trump and continues under Biden, asylum seekers are again in the same desperate situation. It’s unclear how many of them have been kidnapped.

“The Biden administration is winding down one of the Trump administration’s most notorious policies but at the same time it is expelling other asylum seekers back to the very same dangers, attacks and kidnappings through its continued use of the Trump administration’s Title 42 policy to evade U.S. refugee law,” Eleanor Acer, senior director of refugee protection at Human Rights First, said in a statement.

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Things That Matter

9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Photo via Getty Images

On March 20th, U.S. Border Patrol agents found a 9-year-old migrant girl unresponsive along with her mother and sibling on an island in the Rio Grande.

U.S. Border Patrol agents attempted to resuscitate the family. The agents were able to revive the mother and her younger, 3-year-old child. The Border Patrol agents transferred the 9-year-old migrant girl to emergency medics in emergency medics in Eagle Pass, Texas, but she remained unresponsive.

In the end, the 9-year-old migrant girl died–the cause of death being drowning.

The mother of the two children was Guatemalan while the two children were born in Mexico.

The death of the 9-year-old migrant girl is notable because this is the first migrant child death recorded in this current migration surge. And experts worry that it won’t be the last.

And while this is the first child death, it is not the only migrant who has died trying to make it across the border. On Wednesday, a Cuban man drowned while trying to swim across the border between Tijuana and San Diego. He was the second migrant to drown in just a two-week period.

Why is this happening?

According to some reports, the reason so many migrants are heading towards the U.S. right now is “because President Trump is gone”. They believe they have a better chance of claiming asylum in the U.S.

Another factor to take into consideration is that a large number of these migrants are unaccompanied minors. According to migrant services volunteer Ruben Garcia, Title 42 is actually having the opposite effect of its intent. President Trump enacted Title 42 to prevent immigration during COVID-19 for “safety reasons”.

“Families that have been expelled multiple times that are traveling with children,” Garcia told PBS News Hour. “Some of them are making the decision to send their children in by themselves, because they have families someplace in the U.S., and they know their children will be released to them.”

Is there a “border crisis”?

That depends on who you ask. According to some experts, the numbers of migrants heading to the U.S./Mexico border aren’t out-of-the-ordinary considering the time of year and the fact that COVID-19 made traveling last year virtually impossible.

According to Tom Wong of the University of California at San Diego’s U.S. Immigration Policy Center, there is no “border crisis”. “This year looks like the usual seasonal increase, plus migrants who would have come last year but could not,” Wong says.

As the Washington Post explained: “What we’re seeing right now is a predictable seasonal shift. When the numbers drop again in June and July, policymakers may be tempted to claim that their deterrence policies succeeded.”

What is the Biden Administration planning on doing about it?

As of now, it is pretty evident that the Biden Administration has not been handling this migrant surge well, despite ample warning from experts. As of now, President Biden has put Vice President Harris in charge of handling the issues at the border.

As of now, the game plan is still very vague. But in the past, the Biden Administration has stated that they plan to fix the migrant surge at the source. That means providing more aid to Central America in order to prevent further corruption of elected officials.

They also want to put in place a plan that processes children and minors as refugees in their own countries before they travel to the U.S. The government had not tested these plans and they may take years to implement. Here’s to hoping that these changes will prevent a case like the death of the 9-year-old migrant girl.

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