Lawyers tasked with locating immigrant families divided by the Trump administration say they were unable to contact the parents of 545 children in an attempt thwarted by Coronavirus The pandemic, according to a court filed on Tuesday.
“People are constantly asking me when we’ll find all the families and I’m sorry I don’t know,” said Lee Gelernt, lead attorney for the case and deputy director of the ACLU Immigrant Rights Project. , tell BuzzFeed News. “Numbers tell a story, but each child has his or her own story with its own human dimension and that’s why we can’t stop searching until we find every one. family.”
In 2018, the Trump administration systematically separated thousands of children from their parents under the so-called “zero tolerance policy,” in which the parents were put in federal prison before going to court on charges. Entry into America without permission. Because children cannot be sent to federal prisons with their parents, the government separated them, listed them as unaccompanied minors and passed them over to the Office of Human Resettlement. Refugee (ORR) guardian.
Wednesday’s report originated from an ACLU lawsuit in February 2018 on behalf of a Congolese asylum seeker identified as Miss L, who was separated from her 7-year-old daughter by US immigration authorities. her. The mother and daughter were reunited, but the case was expanded to a class action that covered thousands of immigrant families separated by the US government.
Following last year’s revelation that the Trump administration was real Family separation right from the summer of 2017 As part of the pilot program, the classroom was expanded to include 1,030 other children separated from their parents as of July 1, 2017.
On Tuesday, a committee of law firms and nonprofits formed by the ACLU to monitor separated families tried to reach out to the parents of all members in the extended class, reaching out to 485 children were successful, the report states.
Among the parents that the commission cannot access, the ACLU believes that about two-thirds have been deported back to their home countries.
“The communications the government gave us were largely old, so we looked for terrestrial families in Central America … but because of the COVID, the ground search was halted. “Said Gelernt.
He described the situation as “extremely sad”, adding that some of the children, who are living with donors in America, from close relatives to foster families, are just children when they are separated three years ago and “now. spent more than half of his life apart from his parents.”
While field efforts were suspended due to the pandemic, those efforts are starting to return, the report said.
“The steering committee intends to continue field searches while still safe to do so and will continue to update the Court on its progress, especially if such searches are to be Restricted or re-suspended due to travel restrictions or health risks, “the report states.
Adolfo Flores contributed to the report.