Friday September 21st, 2018 6:13PM

Immigrant parents happy but traumatized after kids returned

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Immigrant parents who reveled after joyful reunions with their young children spoke Wednesday of the traumatic impact of being separated from their sons and daughters for months after they were taken from them at the U.S. border.

The administration has been scrambling to reunify the families this week to meet the first of two deadlines set by a federal judge in San Diego who ordered thousands of children be given back to their immigrant parents. Scores of children separated from their families were sent to government-contracted shelters or foster care hundreds of miles away from where their parents were detained.

Roger Ardino, from Honduras, was happy to be back with his 4-year-old son, Roger Jr., who sat on his lap and played with the microphones as the father spoke to reporters. The father said he was still shaken by the ordeal he had to go through just to speak to his boy while he was in government custody. The two were separated in February.

He described feeling a pain in his heart and like he couldn't breathe after his son was taken away. The father held up his wrist and told reporters that after they were separated, he threatened to use a razor on himself if he couldn't speak to his son.

He spoke Wednesday at Annunciation House, an El Paso, Texas-based shelter, along with another father recently reunited with his child. They arrived there Tuesday.

"I was completely traumatized," the father said in Spanish. He added later: "Every time I spoke to him, he would start crying. Where are the rights of children? I thought children were supposed to be a priority here in the United States."

The father said he planned to live with relatives in the United States as his asylum case is processed, which could take years.

It wasn't immediately clear how many children remain in detention facilities.

Late last month, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego set a 14-day deadline to reunite children under 5 with their parents and a 30-day deadline for older children. He asked the government to return to court Friday to give an update on how many families had been reunited.

In trying to meet the first deadline, the government began with a list of 102 children potentially eligible to be reunited and whittled that to 75 through screening that included DNA testing done by swabbing the inside of the cheek.

Of those 75, Justice Department attorneys told the court the government would guarantee 38 would be back with their parents by the end of Tuesday. They said an additional 17 could also join their parents if DNA results arrived and a criminal background check on a parent was completed. It was not known Wednesday whether that happened.

Government attorneys told Sabraw that the Trump administration would not meet the deadline for 20 other children under 5 because it needed more time to track down parents who have already been deported or released into the U.S.

Sabraw indicated more time would be allowed only in specific cases where the government showed good reasons for a delay.

The administration defended its screening, saying it discovered parents with serious criminal histories, five adults whose DNA tests showed they were not parents of the children they claimed to have, and one case of credible child abuse.

The administration faces a second, bigger deadline — July 26 — to reunite more than 2,000 older children with their families. Immigration attorneys say they already are seeing barriers to those reunifications from a backlog in the processing of fingerprinting of parents to families unable to afford the airfare to fly the child to them — which could run as high as $1,000.

Kay Bellor, vice president for programs at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which provides foster care to migrant children, said she witnessed the reunion Wednesday of a 3-year-old and his father in the Washington, D.C., area. The boy seemed bright and alert, asking his father about wanting to go to school and seeing his mother.

"To me, the overwhelming feeling was this is right that they're being reunited, but this was so wrong from the very beginning, and it didn't have to happen this way," Bellor said. "They should never have been separated in the first place."

In New York, Javier Garrido Martinez spoke through tears Wednesday as he held his 4-year-old son, who fed a Dorito to his father as he sat on his lap.

The Honduran father and son had been apart for 55 days.

Garrido Martinez said they were "the worst days" of his life.

___

Watson reported from San Diego. Merchant reported from Houston. Associated Press writers Deepti Hajela in New York; Roxana Hegeman in Wichita, Kansas; and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Washington, contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Immigrant parents happy but traumatized after kids returned
Reunions between immigrant parents, children mixed with joy, trauma of kids being taken from them
6:06PM ( 3 minutes ago )
Trump rattles NATO, knocking its value, assailing Germany
Under fire for his warm embrace of Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump jolted a NATO summit by turning a harsh spotlight on Germany's ties to Russia while questioning the value of a military alliance that has defined decades of American foreign policy.
6:04PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Hugs and sobs: Families separated in US return to Guatemala
"I did not know if I would ever see my daughter again" _ Families separated under Trump's zero tolerance policy return to Guatemala
5:52PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Kansas governor: University will remove flag art piece
The chancellor at the University of Kansas has agreed to have an art display that includes an altered U.S. flag taken down, after Gov. Jeff Colyer and other GOP political candidates complained it was disrespectful.
5:14PM ( 55 minutes ago )
US Navy now allows women to wear ponytails, lock hairstyles
The Navy says it will now allow servicewomen to sport ponytails and other longer hairstyles, reversing a policy that long forbade females from letting their hair down
5:12PM ( 57 minutes ago )
2 ranchers pardoned by Trump arrive home in Oregon
Father and son ranchers who were pardoned by President Trump after becoming the focus of a battle about public lands flew home to Oregon and were greeted by family members and riders on horseback carrying American flags
5:03PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Firefighter killed in gas explosion, fire near Madison
Authorities say a massive natural gas explosion killed a firefighter and leveled portions of a city block in a southern Wisconsin community, including a bar the firefighter owned
4:10PM ( 1 hour ago )
US soon to leapfrog Saudis, Russia as top oil producer
The U.S. is on pace to leapfrog both Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world's biggest oil producer
3:57PM ( 2 hours ago )
Border Protection says NYC mayor crossed border illegally
U.S. Customs and Border Protection alleges that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio illegally crossed from Mexico into the U.S. while visiting the Texas border in June
3:42PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Trump rattles NATO, knocking its value, assailing Germany
Under fire for his warm embrace of Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump jolted a NATO summit by turning a harsh spotlight on Germany's ties to Russia while questioning the value of a military alliance that has defined decades of American foreign policy.
6:04PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Hugs and sobs: Families separated in US return to Guatemala
"I did not know if I would ever see my daughter again" _ Families separated under Trump's zero tolerance policy return to Guatemala
5:52PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Trump rattles NATO, questioning its value, assailing Germany
Under fire for his warm embrace of Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump jolted a NATO summit by turning a harsh spotlight on Germany's ties to Russia while questioning the value of a military alliance that has defined decades of American foreign policy.
5:49PM ( 21 minutes ago )
No shove, but Trump body language speaks to frosty relations
He didn't shove anyone this time, but President Donald Trump's body language at NATO summit suggests his relationships with key U.S. allies aren't exactly buddy-buddy.
5:48PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Hawaii Supreme Court sides with lesbian couple in B&B case
A Hawaii appeals court ruling that a bed and breakfast discriminated against a couple by denying a room to two women because they're gay will stand after the state's high court declined to take up the case
5:39PM ( 30 minutes ago )