Senators Demand DHS Reunite Remaining Separated Families
There are still 539 children currently in federal custody after being separated from their parents at the U.S-Mexico border, despite a court order demanding that they be reunified. Seventeen Senators -- including Kamala Harris (D-CA), Bob Menéndez (D-NJ),Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) -- on Tuesday sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen calling for an immediate remedy to the situation. The letter also stresses how each passing day that the Department of Homeland Security fails to act to reunite separated immigrant children with their parents exacerbates trauma for these children and their families seeking humanitarian protection. “We specifically call on DHS to use humanitarian parole to reunify families with deported parents abroad, to adopt a presumption of reunification for families with parents now deemed “ineligible,” and to ensure that no parents who relinquished their rights to reunification under coercion or duress are removed.” A majority of separated immigrant children in government custody -- approximately 386 children -- remain there because the government deported their parents after they were first separated. The parents of an additional 87 children have been deemed “ineligible,” and Homeland Security claims that at least 34 separated immigrant children remain in government custody because their parents voluntarily relinquished their right to reunification. See the letter here.