Families and sponsors caring for migrant children separated from their families are paying a huge price to help reunite families. The U.S. government is asking them to dig deep into their pockets to shell out money to bring them together. For a migrant child to leave an immigration facility, parents and other relatives are required to pay a huge fee. The fee covers a round trip for an escort to accompany the children on their trips, according to report from The New York Times.
Relatives have paid upwards of $2,000 per child to cover transportation costs and at times aren’t able to afford these costs, The New York Times reports. The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), housed within the Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for these high and incurring fees.
Over several weeks, the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy saw more than 2,300 migrant children separated from their parents. The children are then sent to centers around the country thousands of miles away. Sponsors covering transportation isn’t a new policy, according to Business Insider. It has been halted in the past. However it’s now being applied to parents whose children were taken away under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.
The policy has since been stopped by an executive order when the Trump administration bowed to public outrage.
The payment requirement was waived under the Obama administration when large numbers of families began arriving in 2016. 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).
The New York Times describes a Salvadoran woman originally being asked to pay $4,000 to fly her 12-year-old niece, 10-year-old nephew and an escort from Texas to California. She had to convince the detention shelter she couldn’t afford the payment.
“The government is creating impossible barriers and penalizing poverty,” Neha Desai, the director of immigration at the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland, California, told The New York Times.
The fees have also impacted potential sponsors from bringing children to their homes. Aside from being asked to pay high fees to transport the children, some are being told they need to live in better neighborhoods, according to The New York Times.
President Trump signed an executive order last month supposedly rolling back the child separation practice he created — seeking to replace it instead with indefinite family detention — but a judge last week ordered that families be reunited within 30 days. But so far, nothing has happened to get the order done.
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