Migrant Children Reunited With Family Barely Recognize Them

Ross D. FranklinAP Images

Some migrant families have been reunited in the wake of the Executive Order halting the familiar separation. But as the New York Times reports, some children who are reunited with their parents barely recognize them.

When Mirce Alba Lopez, 31, met her son in Phoenix, she was shocked to find that he cried and tried to squirm from her grip. “He didn’t recognize me. My joy turned temporarily to sadness.”

The reunions were mandated by the state of California. They come at a time when the government has returned to the “catch and release” program they ultimately wanted to eliminate; they plan to “release hundreds of migrant families wearing ankle bracelet monitors into the United States.”

There are at least two court orders for the government to release the children back into their parents’ care. They feel that their “hands are tied” and that the requirements are to release the children after 20 days into the care of their parents or adult relatives.

According to the Trump administration, they no longer plan to prosecute migrant adults who enter the United States with their children.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s executive associate of enforcement and removal operations director Matthew Albence spoke to reporters on Tuesday and said, “Parents with children under the age of 5 are being reunited with their children and then released and enrolled into an alternative detention program.”

He also added that though the ankle bracelets will track the immigrants as they move through the United States, they plan to deploy other methods of ensuring those currently released go to court. To date, there are almost 80,000 migrants wearing ankle bracelets in America today.

Though there have been a number of family reunions, the government did not meet Tuesday’s deadline of reuniting the 102 children under the age of 5 with their parents, per the court order. Those that did occur happened at odd hours, with schedules constantly changing. As of Tuesday morning, the Department of Health and Human Services was still doing background checks. The deadline has been extended to July 26.

Another mother, Milka Pablo, reunited with her 3-year-old daughter, Darly, in Phoenix. Darly and Ms. Lopez’s son, Ederson, called each other “sister” and “brother.” Neither of them called for their mothers. Darly, who had been potty trained prior to detainment and now wore diapers, frequently cried out for the social worker at the shelter where she’d been detained.

There has been no indication from the government as to whether they will meet the July 26 deadline to reunite the families.