Separation of Children at the Border

Meena Lane, Opinions Editor

Ever since the Trump administration established the “zero-tolerance” policy in 2017-2018, hundreds and hundreds of children have been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Under the El Paso program, adults who had crossed the border without permission were detained and criminally charged. For adults with young children, there was no exception. Starting in July of 2017, over 1,500 children were separated from their parents at the border. Any child under 18 years of age accompanying the adult would be given to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The children were then shipped away and scattered all over 100 Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters or other care facilities across the country. Children were ripped from their parents with no knowledge of where they would be and no way back to them. Currently, with help of advocates for many immigrants, 545 children still have yet to be reunited with their parents after 3 years of separation. 

In 2018, a U.S. district judge ordered that families be reunited. Though now, there are still cases that have yet to be addressed because they were not immediately disclosed following these events. These children have been separated from their families for years since being pulled away at the U.S.-Mexico border. Most of the children are believed to be living with sponsors or other family members who are housed in the United States. For the current children who are still on the search for their parents, there is a huge amount of work to be done in order to reunite these families. The Trump administration had separated so many children from parents, but many of these families would not have been reunited if the Trump administration had things go the way they wanted them to go. Many of the children have luckily been released back to their parents or legal guardians. Before the Trump Administration, families who had crossed the border illegally were paroled into the country and awaited an immigration case, or at the very least, were detained together. Under President Donald Trump, he has increased havoc and misery to these families. He has endlessly called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals and continues to deface them. “The government is essentially torturing people by doing this”. In 2018, journalists and human rights advocates toured an old warehouse where they were housing hundreds of children in metal fenced cages. The parents of these children had no idea of the environment their children were in and are now unreachable to reunite with them. These parents were detained or sent back home while their young children were suffering alone. Even now, years after the event, the parents are back living in remote areas where contact is hard. Whether they want to find their children again or not, it is so difficult for them to be able to contact the correct people or find them again. Efforts to locate the still-separated families is low due to incomplete government reports as well as conditions in these children’s homelands. The government should be doing more to reunite these families.