Questions Remain Weeks After Trump Administration Fails to Reunite Children and Parents
By NILC staff
AUGUST 14, 2018
President Trump’s family separation policy has harmed about 2,500 migrant children over the past several months, and serious questions remain about how the administration is treating immigrant families once they are reunited.
Is the administration respecting immigrant parents and children’s rights in immigration court? What specific conditions have parents and children been forced to endure inside immigrant family jails? How, exactly, are migrant families being treated by our government?
To find out, we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request last month on behalf of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, an organization that represents several families who have experienced the cruel and inhumane consequences of the Trump administration’s family separation policies.
After the administration’s actions sparked weeks of public outrage nationwide, a U.S. district court judge in San Diego ordered the government to reunite families by July 26 and to halt the deportation of reunited families who are entitled to asylum proceedings. These orders were issued in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU, Ms. L v. ICE.
Nevertheless, here we are, weeks after the court-ordered July 26 deadline, and hundreds of children are still separated from their parents and locked away in government custody. To make matters worse, stories have emerged of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement coercing parents of children from whom they are separated to sign away their rights. Trump officials have even admitted that the parents of as many as 386 children from whom the parents were separated may have been deported.
To get to the bottom of these abuses, our FOIA request seeks information regarding the following:
- records related to the policies, forms, and checklists governing background checks and reviews for parentage
- records related to the policies governing whether parents who have previously been released from detention will be re-detained with their children following reunification
- what factors are considered in determining whether a family will remain detained together or released upon reunification
- records related to the policies governing children who remain in the Trump administration’s custody whose parents have been deported
While we wait for the Trump administration to answer our request, here’s what we do know. According to research cited by the Kaiser Family Foundation, “Separating children from their parents exposes them to trauma and toxic stress that can have lifelong negative impacts on their mental and physical health.” Each day, each hour these children remain separated from their parents and families has alarming implications for their personal well-being and their families’ health.
We demand that the Trump administration stop dragging its feet. It’s time to reunite all the families it has torn apart and take responsibility for the human rights abuses it has perpetrated. NILC will not stop fighting for accountability and greater transparency. We need answers, and we need them now.