Story at a glance

  • Nine immigrant parents who were deported as a result of President Trump’s zero-tolerance border policy have been reunited with their families.
  • A California federal judge found that the U.S. government unlawfully prevented them from seeking asylum, resulting in illegal deportation.
  • The parents and children were separated for more than a year.

Nine migrant parents who were separated from their children under President Trump’s deportation policy have been reunited with their children in the U.S., according to an Associated Press report.

The parents had reportedly not seen their children in a year and a half or longer until a federal judge in California ruled that they were unlawfully prohibited from seeking asylum by the U.S. government. Most families were separated in 2017 and 2018.

The parents arrived at the Los Angeles International Airport late last night, escorted by advocates, attorneys and church affiliates, according to CBS News coverage of the reunion.

Surrounded by media, migrants including David Xol and Esvin Fernando Arredondo had emotional reunions with their families. 

I don't have words to express what I feel. It's something really big,” Fernando told reporters as he hugged his wife and three daughters. He had not seen them for approximately a year and eight months. 

Judge Dana Makoto Sabraw has presided over dozens of immigration cases and issued rulings to reunite families that had been separated at the border as a result of Trump’s "zero tolerance" deportation policy, which officially ended in the summer of 2018.

In September, Sabraw issued a court ruling permitting nine migrant parents who had been deported to return to the United States, reunite with their children and reapply for asylum status.

Part of Sabraw’s ruling stemmed from findings that indicated immigration officials gave migrants “false information” and coerced them into “waiving their rights and signing off on their deportation.” Since most migrants could not understand the English paperwork, they did not fully comprehend what they were signing. 

The AP reports that more than 4,000 children are known to have been separated from their parents. 

While the zero tolerance family separation policy was ended with an executive order, the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPPs) are still in place. The goal of MPPs is to remand Central American migrants to Mexico — and, more recently, Guatemala — while their asylum and immigration cases proceed in the U.S.

More than 50,000 people have been displaced as they wait for court dates and rulings.

Advocates have widely criticized the move as an unsafe alternative to U.S. detention centers, while defenders have called policies like the MPPs deterrents to disincentivize immigrants from applying for asylum. It appears to be working: Only 0.1 percent of migrants are granted asylum according to one report, and a large portion of applicants withdraw applications due to the inhospitable conditions at the border. 

Published on Jan 24, 2020