The president signed an executive order on June 20th that has reversed course on separating migrant parents from their children. This is good news for the families seeking a better way of life. However, the abrupt change has left officials scrambling to come up with solutions to reunite families while sorting what “zero tolerance” means in light of the policy shift.
The immediate question for many families and administrators is figuring out how to reunite parents with 2,300 children who have been separated since the policy went into effect on May 5. Many may have already been deported or have been moved to a detention center hundreds of miles away. According to the Associated Press, some migrants parents don’t even know where their children are.
A senior official for the Trump administration has announced that 500 children have already been reunited with their parents. Federal officials are currently trying to create a process for all the children.
Zero Tolerance policy on hold for parents?
According to one source at the public defenders office in the Western District of Texas recently announced that prosecutors would dismiss charges against parents of illegally entering or re-entering the country and were separated from their children.
This shift has already apparently taken effect in the town of McAllen, Texas, where federal prosecutors did not charge 17 immigrants with children the day after the president signed the executive order. In another positive sign, a mother separated from her son a month ago sued the U.S. government and was reunited with her son on the same day. The prosecutors in McAllen, however, charged 67 individuals on June 22.
New laws unlikely to pass
While the executive order has ended the policy of splitting families, congress does not seem likely to create a new bill that clarify and update immigration law. A vote has been delayed twice already, and the hard right continues to refuse to budge on prosecuting those who enter the country illegally. On the other hand, moderates have no interest in allowing the president build a $25 billion wall across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Immigration laws are seemingly changing on a daily basis these days. The best way to protect your rights and those of your family to speak with an attorney who specializes in immigration law.