Tuesday January 22, 2019
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American Parents Sue The Government Over Family Separation Policy

The administration says it is forging ahead with plans to reunite the parents

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A protester holds a sign outside a closed gate at the Port of Entry facility, June 21, 2018, in Fabens, Texas, where tent shelters are being used to house separated family members
A protester holds a sign outside a closed gate at the Port of Entry facility, June 21, 2018, in Fabens, Texas, where tent shelters are being used to house separated family members, VOA

Among the parents of more than 2,300 separated migrant children, three Central American parents sued the U.S. government over its policy of family separations Wednesday, the day U.S. President Donald Trump, under intense public pressure, ordered an end to the practice.

But three days later, their situation had not changed and they’re “desperate” for information about the whereabouts and well-being of their children, their lawyer said.

“Our clients are being held in detention facilities with no access to information about their children,” said Jerome Wesevich, an attorney with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in Brownsville, Texas. “The government has some procedures in place for supplying information. So far those have been entirely inadequate.”

The administration says it is forging ahead with plans to reunite the parents with the thousands of children separated since early May when officials announced a “zero tolerance policy” on illegal entry into the United States.

People participate in a protest against recent U.S. immigration policy that separates children from their families when they enter the United States as undocumented immigrants, in front of a Homeland Security facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey, June 17, 2018.
People participate in a protest against recent U.S. immigration policy that separates children from their families when they enter the United States as undocumented immigrants, in front of a Homeland Security facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey, June 17, 2018. VOA

Some families reunited

Late Friday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it had reunited about 500 families, saying “all unaccompanied children in their custody” had been reunited with their families.

But the status of many more transferred out of CBP custody remains uncertain. Wesevich said the uncertainty has left the migrant parents in the dark.

“I’d say there is not a lot of optimism,” Wesevich said. “The president’s announcement is not very understandable about what it’s going to mean in practical terms.”

Meanwhile, legal assistance organizations are trying to locate migrant families caught up in the confusion and chaos that followed Trump’s order.

The Texas Civil Rights Project, an advocacy organization based in Austin, Texas, is leading one of the largest reunification efforts in the state, seeking to reunite as many as 381 immigrants who have been separated from their children.

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid said it would continue its efforts on behalf of the three Central American parents as it awaits clarity about how the government intends to reunite the separated families.

“The point of our lawsuit (is) that they do it as compassionately and quickly as possible,” Wesevich said. “By compassionate, I mean the parents are provided with information on where their children are, how they’re being cared for.”

Short phone calls

Wesevich said one parent, a father from Guatemala, “does not know where (his daughter) is at all.”

A second parent, a Honduran mother of a 9-year-old son, has told the nonprofit that she believes her son has been moved to New York.

“She does not know where he is, except she believes that he is in New York while she is detained in El Paso, Texas,” according to court papers.

Since their separation, the mother has been allowed to speak with her son three times for about five minutes each time, according to court filings.

“He only asks when we will see each other again and begs to be with me,” the mother is quoted as saying in court documents.

“He is scared and lonely and desperate to be with me. I try to tell him everything will be OK and that I’ll see him soon but, the truth is, I don’t know what will happen with us.”

Immigration attorney Efren Olivares, with the Texas Civil Rights Project, answers a question during a news conference outside the Federal Courthouse, June 22, 2018, in McAllen, Texas.
Immigration attorney Efren Olivares, with the Texas Civil Rights Project, answers a question during a news conference outside the Federal Courthouse, June 22, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. VOA

The third parent, a Guatemalan mother of three sons, ages 2, 6 and 13, has been allowed to speak with them for 10 minutes two times each week.

“Of course her 2-year-old is unable to provide reliable information about his circumstances, and staff provide only general information to [her], nothing specific about her children’s well-being, which causes her anguish,” according to court papers.

The plaintiffs are seeking “frequent and meaningful access to or communication” with their children.

Also read: Donald Trump will soon end the DACA Programme-Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Programme for unregistered immigrants

The lawsuit, citing medical experts and court rulings, alleges that “forced separation traumatizes parents and children, and this trauma is compounded when parents and children are denied basic information about each other’s well-being and reunification prospects.” (VOA)

Next Story

The Great U.S. Government Shutdown

The Senate stands at an impasse while the nation collapses around it.

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U.S., Shutdown
The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen beyond a chain fence during the partial government shutdown in Washington, Jan. 8, 2019. VOA

By Vishvi Gupta

The partial shutdown of the Government of the United States has now entered Day 31. With as many as 800,000 federal employees furloughed, the entire nation remains in a turmoil due to the longest government shutdown in the history of United States.

The shutdown which started on December 22 of 2018, due to the disagreement of United States Congress and the President Of United States on ‘Border Security Funding’  has followed us well into 2019 and still has bleak chances of ending.

President Donald Trump remains undeterred in his conquest to get the funding for wall, no matter who pays for it, it seems. In a tweet and several different speeches, during the presidential election race of 2016, the then presidential candidate Donald Trump promised that “Mexico will pay for the wall”. However, he now demands almost $5Bn from the taxpayers of the country.

The country’s senate remains at an impasse and the only ones affected? The people.

Thousands of federal employees joined hands in protests and social media to share their stories of how exactly the shutdown is affecting them. Many employees have had to set up Gofundme donation websites to get by or to meet their basic needs. The shutdown led the hastag, ‘#ShutdownStories’ trend on twitter. Even students who rely on free or reduced fee meals at school are impacted. The lunch menus at schools are being revised so as to conserve food and funding.

As the shutdown drags on, it sees many businesses also take a hit. Mohammad Badah, a local falafel street vendors who saw a steep fall in his sales said,” Usually I do in this area, like 60-70 customers, so far I did like 19 customers today.” Badah can now afford to operate only one of his two trucks.

Also Read: U.S. Senate Stays Divided Over Trump’s Immigration Deal

Meanwhile, there is no budging on the democratic or republican side. President Donald Trump proposed a deal to the democrats in which he backs away from a simple demand for border funding and now offers a 3 year extension of the program for refugees and immigrants who came to America illegally as minors, also called ‘Dreamers.’ Democrats, however rejected this deal saying that Donald Trump’s proposal is “unacceptable” and said the president’s proposal was “not a good-faith effort.”

The Senate stands at an impasse while the nation collapses around it.