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Today is the Deadline for All the Seized and Separated Kids to Be Reunited with their Parents

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Three things to do: bring deported parents back to America; reunite families one and all; take decisions regarding “eligibility” away from the administration that victimized these families

We’ve reached the court-imposed deadline day for the Trump administration to reunite all of the nearly 3,000 children they’ve separated from their parents. Expect to be overwhelmed by a barrage of government fact sheets, numbers and excuses hidden behind bureaucratic opacity. The Trump administration that mobilized to seize children and take them away from their parents with no plan or system to reunite them, is now pretending to be on top of things and doing the best they can. Neither is true, and our national nightmare continues.

Here are three things that need to be done to resolve this ongoing crisis:

  1. Bring the parents the government deported away from their kids back to America to be reunited. 463 parents have been summarily deported to the countries they fled without their children and without getting a meaningful day in court to request asylum. As reported by Politico last night, “Homeland Security officials may have neglected to give a choice to as many as three-quarters of all migrant parents removed from the United States about leaving their children behind, contradicting repeated public assurances from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.” Yesterday, the ACLU highlighted in court documents that the government pressured and misled hundreds of these parents into signing away their rights at reunification before their own deportations. The solution? Locate the parents, bring them to America on humanitarian parole visas, reunite them with their children, and give them the support and opportunity to prepare their requests for asylum.
  2. Reunite all the families, not just those deemed “eligible” by the Trump administration. The Trump administration has taken it upon themselves to deem hundreds of parents “ineligible” for reunification with the kids seized and separated by the Trump administration. The default standard should be that all of the families ripped apart by the Trump administration should be made whole again. Opaque determinations that seem designed to offer cover for the administration’s mistakes and unfairly shift blame onto the parents are hardly in keeping with the spirit of Judge Sabraw’s court order.
  3. An independent and expert body should determine if some families shouldn’t be reunited for now, not the administration that victimized them in the first place. Decisions about taking children from parents are serious matters. In fact, the court order demanding reunification is based on the constitutional protection of family integrity and the finding that the Trump administration violated those protections. Family courts have a very high standard in such cases, mostly related to the possibility of putting the child in harm’s way. Judge Sabraw must take decisions regarding who is “eligible” to be with their children away from the people who seized and separated the children in the first place, and ensure an independent and expert body adjudicates these important questions for the few cases that merit such a review.  

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

The facts are clear. Trump and his team took thousands of kids from their parents; they separated them without any plan or system to reunite them; they deported hundreds of parents without reuniting them with their kids; and now they claim to be making decisions in the best interests of the children. None of this is acceptable. All families should be reunited. The Trump administration should not be allowed to determine what is in the best interests of children they have already victimized. And deported parents should be brought back to America to be reunited with their children and given a chance to vindicate their right to apply for asylum.