DHS unveils plan to reunite immigrant families

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said late Saturday that it knows the location of all children separated from their parents at the border as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

As of June 20, there are 2,053 separated children in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), according to a DHS fact sheet on its family reunification efforts. 

Thus far, 522 children who were separated as result of the policy have been reunited with their parents.


DHS did not provide a timeline for additional reunification efforts, but noted that Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), HHS and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) each play a role in the process.

ICE, for example, has posted notices in each of its holding facilities telling parents who are trying to locate a separated child in HHS or ORR custody that they should contact an information line at 1-800-203-7001. The agency’s Port Isabel Service Processing Center in Texas is being used as the main point for reunification, according to the fact sheet. 

Parents who are ordered to be removed from the country must request their child be removed with them, according to the fact sheet. In the past, some parents have elected to be removed while their child remains in the U.S.

The rough outline of reunification efforts comes days after President Trump signed an executive order halting the practice of family separation. The president did so after saying that only Congress could address the issue. 

DHS did not provide a clear outline for how it intended to reunite families immediately following the president’s order, underscoring the chaos behind the administration’s reversal of the practice. 

The Trump administration has faced overwhelming backlash to its family separation policy, which is a direct result of the zero tolerance initiative. Democrats and Republicans alike have called family separation “cruel” and “inhumane.”

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