rain
Monday December 10th, 2018 12:23AM

Family separations at border down, but dozens still affected

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration separated 81 migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border since the June executive order that stopped the general practice amid a crackdown on illegal crossings, according to government data obtained by The Associated Press.

Despite the order and a federal judge's later ruling, immigration officials are allowed to separate a child from a parent in certain cases — serious criminal charges against a parent, concerns over the health and welfare of a child or medical concerns. Those caveats were in place before the zero-tolerance policy that prompted the earlier separations at the border.

The government decides whether a child fits into the areas of concern, worrying advocates of the families and immigrant rights groups that are afraid parents are being falsely labeled as criminals.

From June 21, the day after President Donald Trump's order, through Tuesday, 76 adults were separated from the children, according to the data. Of those, 51 were criminally prosecuted — 31 with criminal histories and 20 for other, unspecified reasons, according to the data. Nine were hospitalized, 10 had gang affiliations and four had extraditable warrants, according to the immigration data. Two were separated because of prior immigration violations and orders of removal, according to the data.

"The welfare of children in our custody is paramount," said Katie Waldman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees U.S. immigration enforcement. "As we have already said — and the numbers show: Separations are rare. While there was a brief increase during zero tolerance as more adults were prosecuted, the numbers have returned to their prior levels."

At its height over the summer, more than 2,400 children were separated. The practice sparked global outrage from politicians, humanitarians and religious groups who called it cruel and callous. Images of weeping children and anguished, confused parents were splashed across newspapers and television.

A federal judge hearing a lawsuit brought by a mother who had been separated from her child barred further separations and ordered the government to reunite the families.

But the judge, Dana Sabraw, left the caveats in place and gave the option to challenge further separations on an individual basis. American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt, who sued on behalf of the mother, said he hoped the judge would order the government to alert them to any new separations, because right now the attorneys don't know about them and therefore can't challenge them.

"We are very concerned the government may be separating families based on vague allegations of criminal history," Gelernt said.

According to the government data, from April 19 through Sept. 30, 170 family units were separated because they were found to not be related — that included 197 adults and 139 minors. That could also include grandparents or other relatives if there was no proof of relationship. Many people fleeing poverty or violence leave their homes in a rush and don't have birth certificates or formal documents with them.

Other separations were because the children were not minors, the data showed.

During the budget year 2017, which began in October 2016 and ended in September 2017, 1,065 family units were separated, which usually means a child and a parent — 46 due to fraud and 1,019 due to medical or security concerns, according to data.

Waldman said the data showed "unequivocally that smugglers, human traffickers, and nefarious actors are attempting to use hundreds of children to exploit our immigration laws in hopes of gaining entry to the United States."

Thousands of migrants have come up from Central America in recent weeks as part of caravans. Trump, a Republican, used his national security powers to put in place regulations that denied asylum to anyone caught crossing illegally, but a judge has halted that change as a lawsuit progresses.

The zero tolerance policy over the summer was meant in part to deter families from illegally crossing the border. Trump administration officials say the large increase in the number of Central American families coming between ports of entry has vastly strained the system.

But the policy — and what it would mean for parents — caught some federal agencies off guard. There was no system in place to track parents along with their children, in part because after 72 hours children are turned over to a different agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, which has been tasked with caring for them.

An October report by Homeland Security's watchdog found immigration officials were not prepared to manage the consequences of the policy. The resulting confusion along the border led to misinformation among separated parents who did not know why they had been taken from their children or how to reach them, longer detention for children at border facilities meant for short-term stays and difficulty in identifying and reuniting families.

Backlogs at ports of entry may have pushed some into illegally crossing the U.S-Mexico border, the report found.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Health, AP Health - Children's Health
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Eiffel Tower to close Saturday amid riot fears
The Eiffel Tower has announced that it will be closed to visitors on Saturday due to the protests called in the French capital by the yellow vest movement
1:11PM ( 2 minutes ago )
Reba McEntire, Oak Ridge Boys sing at Bush's Texas funeral
Reba McEntire, Oak Ridge Boys sing at Houston funeral service of former President George H.W. Bush
1:07PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Family separations at border down, but dozens still affected
81 migrant children separated from families at the U.S.-Mexico border since Trump stopped large-scale separation policy in June
1:01PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
UK leader may let Parliament decide on Brexit backstop
British Prime Minister Theresa May says she may let Parliament decide whether to trigger the controversial Northern Ireland "backstop" as she struggles to overcome opposition to her Brexit deal
12:50PM ( 24 minutes ago )
The Latest: Bush family heads to special funeral train
The family of George H.W. Bush is headed to a Union Pacific facility to join a special train that will carry the former president's casket to his final resting place
12:49PM ( 25 minutes ago )
The Latest: McEntire, Oak Ridge Boys sing at Bush send-off
Country music star Reba McEntire has sung "The Lord's Prayer" at the Houston funeral service of former President George H.W. Bush
12:36PM ( 38 minutes ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
EKG, other heart health features come to Apple Watch
The latest software update to the newest Apple Watch, the Series 4, will now let people take EKGs of their heart and notify them when they have an irregular heartbeat
11:50AM ( 1 hour ago )
Judge's order didn't end family separations at border
81 migrant children separated from families at the U.S.-Mexico border since Trump stopped large-scale separation policy in June
11:30AM ( 1 hour ago )
Nobel laureates: Despite progress, cancer won't be wiped out
The winners of this year's Nobel Prize for Medicine say they expect substantial advances toward treating cancer in the next several decades although it is unlikely the disease could be eradicated
9:44AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Health
Empty boxes top high-tech toys on doctor-recommended list
Empty boxes top electronic games on pediatrician-recommended toy list for young children
4:24PM ( 2 days ago )
Top tot toys? Blocks and boxes backed over high-tech toys
Pediatricians tout blocks, puzzles, even throwaway boxes over high-tech toys for young children
12:25AM ( 3 days ago )
Romania shuts hospital after babies diagnosed with superbug
Romanian health authorities temporarily close a maternity hospital in the capital after 13 babies born there were diagnosed with a drug-resistant bug
2:25PM ( 5 days ago )
AP Health - Children's Health
OPEC delays oil output decision pending Russia talks
OPEC countries hoping to support the price of oil put off their decision on how much to reduce oil production until they negotiate with ally Russia on Friday on how much it will contribute to the cut.
12:57PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Redskins ask for privacy amid reports of Smith complications
The Washington Redskins have asked for privacy for Alex Smith and his family amid reports the quarterback is dealing with complications from surgery to repair a broken leg
12:55PM ( 19 minutes ago )
2 US warplanes crash off Japan; 1 dead, 5 missing
The U.S. military says one of two crew members recovered after two U.S. warplanes collided and crashed off Japan's coast is dead and five others remain missing
12:55PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Senators wrestle with rebuke of Saudis for Khashoggi killing
Senators are considering multiple pieces of legislation in an effort to formally rebuke Saudi Arabia for the slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi
12:54PM ( 20 minutes ago )
The Latest: President lauds rescue efforts after Japan crash
President Donald Trump is thanking U.S. forces in Japan for their work trying to rescue crew members after two U.S. warplanes collided and crashed off the coast of Japan early Thursday
12:51PM ( 23 minutes ago )