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Data Suggests More than 200 Parents Were Deported Without Their Children


Hundreds gathered in front of San Fernando Cathedral for the Vigil for Humanity to oppose the separating families seeking asylum. - MEGAN RODRIGUEZ
  • Megan Rodriguez
  • Hundreds gathered in front of San Fernando Cathedral for the Vigil for Humanity to oppose the separating families seeking asylum.
More than 200 migrant adults may have been deported from the United States without the children with whom they were apprehended, according to federal data obtained by researchers at Syracuse University

A total of 1,060 of the 4,537 adults traveling with children while apprehended in April have been deported, according to Syracuse's nonpartisan Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. A smaller number of children apprehended while with adults — just 851 of the 5,144 apprehended with those family units — were deported.

Doing the math, that suggests up to 209 parents may have shipped out without their kids.

"(H)undreds of families and children remain separated while in immigration custody," Efren C. Olivares, the Texas Civil Rights Project's racial and economic justice director, said in a statement on the Trump Administration's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy. "They still have no meaningful access to attorneys and desperately need information about their loved ones’ whereabouts. Even more alarming, some parents, including five of our clients, have already been deported without their children."

As of April, more than half of the children arrested with their parents by U.S. Border Patrol were 7 years old or younger, according to additional records obtained by the clearinghouse. Almost a quarter were 3 or younger.

An adult who is ordered out of the United States may request that their minor child accompany them, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "It should be noted that in the past many parents have elected to be removed without their children," the agency said.

Family separations at the border accelerated this spring after the Trump administration unveiled its controversial immigration policy. At the time, Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned the government would take children from parents who try to cross the border without documents.

Although Trump subsequently signed an executive order purported to stop splitting up families, questions remain about how authorities will return children to their parents. This week, a federal judge ordered the White House to reunify families within 14 days in cases where the child is under 5 and 30 days in those of older children.

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