Friday, July 27, 2018

Group Helping Separated Migrant Families in South Texas Can't Account for Many

Posted By on Fri, Jul 27, 2018 at 3:59 PM

click to enlarge At woman listens to speakers at a recent San Antonio rally decrying the Trump administration's immigration policies. - SANFORD NOWLIN
  • Sanford Nowlin
  • At woman listens to speakers at a recent San Antonio rally decrying the Trump administration's immigration policies.
A day after the federal government's deadline to reunite immigrant families, officials with the Texas Civil Rights Project said they're still trying to figure out how many have actually been brought back together.

The organization can only confirm that 76 of the 382 families it's worked with have been reunited and released after being separated under the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy. Some were reunited in South Texas detention centers, but it's been unable to account for others.

"These incidents point to major, ongoing problems," said Efren Olivares, TCRP's director for racial and economic justice. "They highlight the mismanagement of the process and the further trauma it’s causing. And they underscore the government’s utter failure to plan for timely, humane reunification when it tore families apart.”

One mother represented by the group was given the wrong child, according to Olivares, although that issue was later resolved. Some parents slept in cars because they were released from detention before their children arrived, while others received release orders but still hadn't been allowed to leave their detention centers.

At least seven TCRP clients were deported without the children taken from them at the border, Olivares said. He fears that number will grow as the group learns the whereabouts of more of the people it represents.

A federal court ordered the Trump administration to reunite all migrant families by midnight Thursday. Shortly before the deadline, officials said they had reunited more than 1,800 children 5 years and older, but another 700 remain separated, including 431 who were deported.

Olivares said he's concerned groups such as his and San Antonio-based RAICES are bearing the brunt of the reunification work, putting significant strain on their resources.

“Nonprofit groups are now forced to fill in the gaps left by the government’s haphazard efforts," he said. "They are working tirelessly to provide food and clothing, essential information, the ability to communicate with their legal counsel and loved ones, and assistance with travel."

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