Today marks three months since our government announced its “zero tolerance policy” toward undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers, ripping children from the arms of their parents and placing the kids in detention facilities across the country. I’m sure it seems much longer for the parents, some 400 of whom have already been deported and whose whereabouts the government has no clue.
After worldwide protests, “zero tolerance” was abandoned and close to 2,000 families (of the original 2,500) reunited. A family reunification deadline imposed by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw has been missed more than once, and the government tried to fob off the rest of the job on the American Civil Liberties Union whose attorneys are working with immigrants who were apparently duped into agreeing to be separated from their children.
(The ACLU has just filed a lawsuit challenging newly imposed stiffer requirements for granting asylum.)
While the ACLU has expressed a willingness to help, Judge Sabraw demurred. “That will be 100 percent the government’s responsibility,” he said. But he added that the ACLU cooperate, as described by the Los Angeles Times, “by establishing a lead counsel or steering committee to decide how to best track down their deported or missing clients and advise them of their legal options.” Both entities are directed to work together on a plan for this cooperative effort. The details of that plan are due Friday, Aug. 10.
Once the reunification mess is sorted out, there will be a need to address the trauma that has been endured by children and their parents.
Photos: npr.org, newyorker.com, hrw.org