Zero Tolerance Detainees Asked To Choose Between Deportation and Their Children

By Kenneth White

Two immigration attorneys have reported that between 20 and 25 men located 75 miles from Houston have received offers of reunification with family in exchange for voluntary deportation, reports the Texas Tribune. While the action of offering voluntary deportation to detained individuals is common, the addition of promising a reunion with children as a bargaining chip is not. Anne Chandler, Houston Director of the Tahirih Justice Center, a national organization that advocates for immigrant women and girls, corroborated the account in her work with individuals seeking asylum, including a statement made by a Central American migrant detained at the Livingston facility in Texas.

ICE spokesman, Carl Rusnok, said Saturday evening that the agency “cannot research vague allegations” but would do so if given specific details about the migrants who made claims. The two men referenced in the Texas Tribune article were not identified for fear of reprisal.

A Homeland Security and Health and Human Services fact sheet released Saturday said parents ordered removed from the U.S. can “request that his or her minor child accompany them” but that “many parents have elected to be removed without their children.” Of 2,500 migrant children who have been separated from their parents since early May, 522 minors have been reunified with family members. HHS states that they have a reunification plan for those who remain in federal custody. However, many immigrant parents have been placed in removal proceedings and some have already been deported without their children.

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