Trump Administration Says It Has Plan To Reunite Child Immigrants With Families, But Process Could Take Months

People gather at Saint Mark Catholic Church
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The Trump administration has responded to the outcries of Americans about their zero-tolerance immigration policy that has resulted in separating children from their parents. But as they try to fix the problem, they warn that the reunions won’t be happening quickly, reports CNN. On Saturday night, a statement was released by the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services which said that HHS still has 2,053 children in their custody who need to be reunited with their parents. This plan calls for them to have to wait until there is an outcome decided on their parents’ deportation hearings. If they’re to be deported, the family will reunite prior to deportation. If the parents are released from the detention centers, then their next step is to apply to serve as the child’s sponsor under HHS rules.

Part of the problem has been that accurate records haven’t been kept about which child belongs to whom, so as part of the reunification effort under this plan, the hope is to have better databases linking the parent and children’s information as well as their whereabouts, according to the fact sheet. “DHS said that 522 had been reunited since the policy began, with 16 more reunions in process delayed due to weather,” reports CNN.

“But Trump’s executive order on Wednesday telling his administration to keep families together only added to the confusion at first — as the order seemed impossible to actually put in place,” continued CNN. The news organization also obtained emails that show that while the Trump administration is saying that it’s continuing its zero-tolerance policy, that’s not really the case and it’s been stopped…for the moment. CNN reports that “the U.S. Border Patrol would stop referring parents for prosecution until further notice.” This suspension of referrals contradicts what the Justice Department has been saying publicly, making it seem like the government is at odds internally on the policy that has already divided the nation.

Meanwhile, it remains unclear how those children still being held in the detention centers will get reunited with their parents. In the past, it has fallen on the parents to locate their children using the HHS hotline, which everyone involved has said can be confusing at best and unfortunately is mostly ineffective. “The fact sheet says ICE and HHS will work to facilitate communication, but still lists numbers that parents should call for assistance,” reports CNN. So while things may get easier for families moving forward, for those already lost in the system, finding their way out to be reunited still remains a high hurdle to climb.