America’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released their plan to reunite the families that were separated at the U.S. border. Included in that plan is a procedure that will require some families to apply for their children back. While children who were about to be referred to the Human Health Services (HHS) are to be returned with their parents straight away, the fate of the children already under HHS care will depend on the result of their parent’s trial. Parents who the court decides must return to their home country will be reunited with their children before deportation, with no application necessary. However, parents allowed to stay will have to apply to “serve as the child’s sponsor under HHS rules.” Parents remain detained while this process takes place. CNN says the application “is required by law once the child is in HHS custody,” and “can take weeks, though it’s unclear whether the parent can start that process before they are released from detention.”
Civil-rights lawyer, Sirine Shebaya, told the Washington Post, “we have people in there who are considering not continuing on with really strong asylum claims because they think they’ll get reunited with their kids faster if they give up their claim.” Her statement expresses the reality of how these rules are forcing parents into extremely difficult situations.
This raises the question of whether this process, that is, “required by law,” is just another tool used by the U.S. government to deter immigrants from wanting to stay in America. This was one of the Trump Administration’s many excuses of why they were taking children away from their parents in the first place, before their change of heart following the global backlash after the public found out. Therefore, this just seems like a subtler way of lowering illegal immigration. After the word “kidnapping” was used to describe the Trump Administration’s actions, their harsh tone turned into an excuse for their actions. The Administration began to claim that they were just doing what is “required by law.” However, that was a law they created and emboldened. If Trump truly cared, he would override that requirement with an executive order too, and stop belittling the humans who sought refuge in his country by making them apply for their children.
Trump signed the “keeping families together” executive order on June 20, declaring that the Trump administration would no longer be separating children from their parents at the Mexican Border, as they were under their “zero-tolerance” immigration policy. The executive order was unclear about the fate of the families who were already separated, especially since there was no reunification process in place, to begin with, so this plan has been long awaited for by the disturbed global public.
While this reunification process is a step up from having no process at all, the DHS and the Trump Administration’s new approach does not reflect true remorse. It is confusing and suspicious that the families the court believe have “valid” reasons for coming to America and who are allowed to stay, are the ones being patronized and punished. It appears they are still not comprehending the trauma they have caused, and in terms of rectifying their actions, this is still not good enough.
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