Migrant parents: ICE officers 'intimidated' us into signing forms to abandon right to reunify with their children

Migrant parents: ICE officers 'intimidated' us into signing forms to abandon right to reunify with their children
© Getty

Some migrant parents forcibly separated from their children by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) say that officials with the agency "intimidated" them into signing forms relinquishing their rights to be reunified with their children.

NBC News reports that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a number of other groups are representing several parents who say they signed a "separated parent's removal form" under duress at the behest of ICE agents despite their requests for legal representation to explain the forms.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I’ve committed a sin,” one man who asked to be identified as Ascención told attorneys for the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, in an affidavit shared with NBC.

“He did not give me explanations,” Ascención continued. “The officer did not allow me to explain why we were in the United States. They forced me to sign documents even though I asked to speak with someone before signing."

He says he signed the documents "because I was intimidated" by ICE agents. The man does not read English and says he was not informed until after he had signed them by a Spanish-speaking attorney what rights he had waived.

His lawyer, Lindsay Toczylowski, says that more parents who waived their rights to reunification did so without understanding the forms they were signing.

“This was either the cruelest policy, even more cruel than I think people realize, or it was the most negligent policy of all time,” Toczylowski said.

Last week, the ACLU wrote in a court filing that some migrant parents “may not have availed themselves of their right to seek asylum because they were misled or coerced into believing that asserting their asylum claim would delay or preclude reunification."

Several hundred children remain separated from their parents after the Trump administration missed a deadline to reunify all families separated under the administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate MORE signed an executive order ending the family separations in June, but the administration has struggled to complete reunifications of hundreds of families in the face of a court order to complete the process.