A stunning amount of red tape is keeping detainee families from reuniting

The Trump administration totally has a plan for reuniting immigrant families torn apart at America’s southern borders. Unfortunately it’s a shitty one.

The Texas Tribune reports that an Honduran asylum seeker, who prefers to only be known as ‘Mario,’ was forcibly separated from his 10-year old daughter for a month, as part of the government’s Zero Tolerance immigration policy. This past Tuesday, Mario was finally reunited with his daughter—for about an hour. The pair were separated once again. The reason: The Office of Refugee Resettlement, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can’t pull their collective act together.

Mario knows where is daughter is—they’re both in El Paso, Texas—but he’s not allowed to see her. Before they have the opportunity to permanently come back together as a family once again, the U.S. government’s got a ton of hoops that they want Mario to jump through. The common thread: he needs to prove that he’s his daughter’s father. Last month, Mario and his legal representative were working to get his passport back from the FBI, as it had been taken from him when he was taken into custody at the border. This week, he’s waiting to be fingerprinted. That each step of the process to get his daughter back is being handled by a different government organization only serves to slow things down. Similar stories are playing out with other families as well. Claudia Muñoz, is the immigration programs director for Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based group that opposes for-profit immigrant detention centers. From what she told the Texas Tribune’s Julián Aguilar, the level of red tape that detainees are having to cut through in order to get back their kids is at a level where one has to start to wonder whether the government actually wants families to be reunited. Hmmmm…

From the Texas Tribune:

Claudia Muñoz, Grassroots Leadership’s immigration programs director, said she’s accompanied three Central American mothers to the region where they’ve been told their children are being held. But each one has had to deal with different challenges in order to be reunited with their children for longer than the daily hour-long visits they are allowed.

“They had asked [one] mother for a proof of address for the past 30 days, like a utility bill or something, but she was just released from detention, so she didn’t have that,” Muñoz said.

Another mother was told she had to start the complete sponsorship process that guardians of unaccompanied minors go through to be reunited with her child — a process Muñoz said could take up to six weeks. A sponsorship packet Muñoz provided to the Tribune requests everything from a sponsor’s naturalization information to their child's immunization records.

This was never going to end well.

Image via Wikipedia Commons

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