In a press release Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had reunited 522 immigrant children that had been detained as part of the zero-tolerance “initiative.”
In that same release, DHS states, “The United States government knows the location of all children in its custody and is working to reunite them with their families.”
Do they really though?
On Monday, a press conference was held at a shelter for immigrants in downtown El Paso, Texas, where more than 30 parents are currently staying awaiting to be reunited with their children.
These parent, who are part of the first group released under Trump’s executive order, spoke about their experiences under the zero-tolerance policy, and although some have been able to find their children, many have not.
According to an online article in the El Paso Times, a Honduran dad named Mario, still has not been able locate his 10-year-old daughter.
Also many of the parents who have located their children, have found out that they are being detained thousands of miles away in shelters in states as far away as New York.
Pictures taken at the press conference show parents crying their eyes out as they attempt to finish telling the reporters their experiences and desperation to find their missing children. It’s really something hard to see.
Imagine how their children feel.
In an NPR article, Ruben Garcia, the director of the shelter where the parents are staying, said he asked DHS about how parents should go about finding their children and was told the only resource available is a 1-800 number.
Yea, a 1-800 number.
According to the shelter’s legal coordinator, when parents call the number, they are asked information and then simply are told that they will get a call back whenever they have more information, which can usually take up to four to five days.
Meanwhile children remain detained until found and although CBP claim they’ve reunited more than 500 families, that still have more than 2,000 kids trapped in detention centers waiting.
There is also the issue of those parents who were detained while the zero-tolerance was still in effect. They remained detained with criminal charges and so will their children.
The reality is that it is very hard to believe that the U.S. Government know exactly the location of all the thousands of children they separated from their parents. Especially since there they haven’t released any official protocol.
Calling a 1-800 number isn’t a real solution.
The way the Trump administration is handling the reunification of the same families they tore apart in just a matter of months is as inhumane as the zero-tolerance that caused their detention.
The executive order which Trump hopes will make up for the xenophobic way in which he and his administration have handled the asylum-seeking families at the border only makes matters worse.
You’d think it would solve the problem of family separation, but instead opens the door for indefinite detention of these families. It also opens the door for more detention centers, like the ones currently in use, to be build in what they refer to as a “need-be” basis.
In the meantime thousands of parents desperately await to locate and reunite with their children. Those same children continue to do what they can to once again see their love ones, and that is to sit and wait inside metal cages, wrapped in metal blankets, hoping and wishing for the best.