A risky return: 29 deported parents try to re-enter the United States
After being separated from their children during the implementation of the government’s Zero-Tolerance policy, a group of undocumented parents has crossed the border to request asylum and try to reunite with their children.
They left their countries running away from violence. They crossed Central America with few belongings, holding their children by the hand. When they arrived in the United States without documents, they were separated and deported, while their children remained in the custody of the government.
Today, against all risk, they undertake the journey once again.
Supported by religious leaders and a coalition of legal groups such as Al Otro Lado, Families Belong Together and Together Rising, 29 undocumented immigrant parents have once again crossed a border entry point with Mexico to seek asylum and reunite with their children.
According to The Guardian, the parents traveled again through Central America to the border of Mexicali where they "had to wait 10 hours" on Saturday, before they were allowed to enter.
Media pressure led by legal groups and personalities, such as former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, allowed the parents to reenter the detention procedure.
"This is a huge victory for these families," said Erika Pinheiro, spokeswoman for Al Otro Lado. "But this fight isn’t over until they’re reunited with their kids. They are now going into the black hole of Customs and Border Protection custody, and some could be separated again."
These families are just some of the victims of the Zero Tolerance policy implemented by the Donald Trump government in early 2018 that accentuated the measures of family separation established during the previous year.
According to independent investigations and government data, the Administration had separated up to 2,000 undocumented families when they were detained at the border, and more than 2,500 children are in federal custody or have been placed in the hands of foster families.
Similarly, according to figures from the Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 430 parents were deported without their children, of which 200 remain separated.
Even though the government's policy was suspended after a wave of lawsuits and nationwide protests on June 20th, many families remain separated and their children have been exposed to abuse and violence within federal facilities.
As the Washington Post explained, "before the Trump administration, families had never been systematically separated at the border," and until Saturday there had never been a "massive" return of families to the border.
The media interviewed parents, who told the story of their children in custody, in the midst of suicide attempts and post-traumatic stress.
According to current law, deported immigrants cannot re-apply for asylum within the United States. However, the parents' request at the border is considered a last and extreme resort to reunite with their children.
At this moment, parents could face months in federal detention or with sponsors while waiting for the resolution of their cases.