Legal professionals Cannot Discover Mother and father Of Extra Than 500 Immigrant Youngsters Separated By Trump Administration
Lawyers selected to find foreign families separated by Trump’s administration say they have failed to reach the parents of 545 children in an experiment that was disrupted by the coronavirus, according to a Tuesday court.
“People are just asking me which families to find and unfortunately I don’t know,” Lee Gelernt, attorney general and deputy director of ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, told BuzzFeed News. “These numbers tell the same story, but each child has his or her own story with a personal character and that’s why we can’t stop looking until we find every family.”
In 2018, Trump officials separated thousands of children from their parents under the guise of “zero zero tolerance” while parents were sent to federal prison before going to court on charges of entering the US without permission. Because children could not be sent to federal prison by their parents, the government separated them, registered them as foster children, and relocated them to the Office of the Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
Wednesday’s report comes from a court ruling by ACLU in February 2018 on behalf of a Congolese asylum seeker identified as Ms L who was separated from her 7-year-old daughter by US immigration officials. The mother and baby reunited, but the case was raised in a class-action case involving thousands of families from countries separated by the US government.
Following a revelation last year that Trump administration was separating families in early summer of 2017 as part of the pilot program, the class was expanded to include another 1,030 children separated from their parents since July 1, 2017.
As of Tuesday, a committee of legal and nonprofit offices set up by ACLU to investigate divorced families has tried to reach the parents of all foster children, reaching well over 485 children, the report said.
Of the parents to whom the committee has failed to reach, ACLU believes that about two-thirds have already been sent to their home countries.
“The information the government gave us was very difficult, which is why we have been looking for families in Central America … but thanks to COVID, the ground-breaking hunt has stopped,” Gelernt said.
He added that this was very unfortunate, adding that some children, living with US caregivers ranging from a family member to a foster family, were infants when they were separated three years ago and “now have more than half of their lives separated from their parents.”
The report said that although the prenatal efforts were halted due to the epidemic, the efforts were resumed.
“The Steering Committee intends to continue the search for safe ground, and will continue to establish the Court on the go, especially if such searches should be reduced or stopped due to travel restrictions or health risks,” the report said.
Adolfo Flores provided reports.