Senate Democrats call on DHS to release deported parents who returned to U.S. to reunite with kids

A group of Democratic senators are demanding the release of a group of unjustly deported parents who returned to the southern border earlier this month to reunite with their children in the U.S. Only a handful of the 29 parents have been able to see their kids again, while 17 of the parents remain in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, with no idea when they’ll be free.

“In many cases, these parents have been separated from their children for several months, and in some cases more than a year,” Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (Nevada), Kamala Harris (California), Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut), and Jeff Merkley (Oregon) told Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. “These families have already suffered significant trauma at the hands of the U.S. government. Given the grave risks to the health and wellbeing of these children and families, we urge you not to prolong their separation.”

One of the parents who has been freed was separated from his daughter for 10 months. Jose Eduardo dicho that the last time he saw Yaimy, “she was standing in a frigid border patrol holding cell.” When he returned from immigration court, she was gone. “Where is my daughter?” he cried to immigration officials. They lied to him, saying, “We don’t know.” 

Sure they did: They were separating families under the barbaric “zero tolerance” policy. They were also rushing to deport asylum-seekers without their children, and without giving them a fair chance to make their case. “It is our understanding that each of these parents was deported without their children,” the senators say, “very often under suspect circumstances in which they were pressured into signing documents they did not understand or misled about their options for reunification.”

These families must be freed, the legislators tell Nielsen. “These parents have again been separated from the children they presented themselves with, further compounding the fear, harm, and trauma they have already experienced. It is imperative that these parents be released, reunited with their children, and allowed to continue their cases in immigration court.” Family separation remains a crisis.