Split Migrant Families Face 'Total Labyrinth'

Source says out of 2.3K, 500 have been reunited with families
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2018 6:24 AM CDT
Updated Jun 22, 2018 6:56 AM CDT
A protester holds a sign outside a closed gate at the Port of Entry facility, Thursday, June 21, 2018, in Fabens, Texas, where tent shelters are being used to house separated family members.   (AP Photo/Matt York)
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(Newser) – Amid widespread confusion over President Trump's executive order on border separations, a senior administration official says many of the children taken from their families have already been reunited with their parents. The official, speaking under condition of anonymity, tells the AP that around 500 of more than 2,300 children separated from their families under the "zero tolerance" border policy have been returned to their parents since May, some of them within days of being taken. It's not clear how many are still in detention with their families. Texas attorney Jodi Goodwin, however, tells the Washington Post that she has tried to locate dozens of separated children on behalf of their mothers and had no success. With children sent to foster homes and shelters across the country, "it's a total labyrinth," Goodwin says.

Natalia Cornelio with the Texas Civil Rights Project legal aid group says they are working with 300 parents but have only been able to track down two children. "Either the government wasn't thinking at all about how they were going to put these families back together, or they decided they just didn’t care," she tells the Post. The AP's source says ICE and HHS are working to set up a centralized reunification process in Texas, though some attorneys and officials have admitted, chillingly, that "permanent separation" is a possibility in some cases. The Pentagon, meanwhile, said Thursday that it is preparing to shelter up to 20,000 "unaccompanied alien children" on four military bases in Texas and Arkansas, the New York Times reports. (Two baby boys taken from their parents ended up in Michigan.)

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