The Slatest

U.S. Government Still Hasn’t Found the Parents of Hundreds of Children Separated at Border

A pile of shoes and stuffed animals on the ground in front of a fence behind which security personnel stand guard beside an SUV
A port of entry near El Paso, Texas, on June 21, 2018. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The consequences of the Trump administration’s profoundly immoral child separation border policy continue. The latest horror in a policy explicitly built on eliciting terror is that the U.S. government has been unable to locate the parents of hundreds of the young children separated from their families as part of the 2017 pilot program that later was expanded into America’s immigration policy. Roughly half of the parents of the 1,000 children separated during this initial phase have been located, but NBC News reports that a court filing from the American Civil Liberties Union says the government has not been able to locate the parents of 545 children. As many as two-thirds of those parents were deported without their children back to Central America, leaving hundreds of children stuck in foster homes for years.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

A federal judge tasked the ACLU and other pro bono law firms with finding the parents of the separated children. “People ask when we will find all of these families, and sadly, I can’t give an answer. I just don’t know,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, told NBC News. “But we will not stop looking until we have found every one of the families, no matter how long it takes. The tragic reality is that hundreds of parents were deported to Central America without their children, who remain here with foster families or distant relatives.”

The task of physically locating displaced families in Mexico or back in their home countries is a painstaking and time-consuming process. The pandemic has also made the search more difficult. The immediate and ongoing consequences of the separation policy are unthinkable, but they weren’t unknowable. The Trump administration was unable to provide sufficient care and struggled simply to keep track of the thousands of children it took from their parents. This is a situation of the U.S. government’s own making, and it is not over. “There is so much more work to be done to find these families,” Gelernt said.

Advertisement