MCALLEN, Texas (AP) – The Latest on the separation of immigrant children from their parents (all times local):
An official of a West Texas organization that’s receiving around 30 immigrant parents who were separated from their children after entering the country illegally says “there’s no magic bullet” to reuniting the families.
The released parents were arriving Sunday to El Paso’s Annunciation House.
Legal coordinator Taylor Levy says she doesn’t know where their children, including toddlers, are and the parents haven’t been able to speak with them.
Levy says the group is working to locate the children and figure out if any are still in the El Paso area, but many may be elsewhere.
She said immigrants have only been provided a toll-free number for information but that callers “wait and wait and wait” for maybe 90 minutes. If they’re fortunate to get an operator to eventually take information they’re told the wait time is four or five days.
An El Paso, Texas-based organization that assists immigrants says it’s receiving about 30 parents who have been separated from their children after they were apprehended entering the country illegally and will work to reunite the families.
Annunciation House Director Ruben Garcia says the immigrants are being brought to his group by bus after federal authorities withdrew criminal charges.
It marks one of the largest known releases of parents since the Trump administration reversed course last week and stopped separating immigrant parents and their kids.
Garcia says the only guidance the immigrants were provided is to call an 800 telephone number. He says that’s problematic because his experience is the telephone contact won’t provide any information.
Exactly how, or when, the released parents might be reunited with their children remains unclear.
About 100 people have gathered at the Tornillo, Texas, border crossing from Mexico to protest the separation of children and the detention of families.
Former San Antonio mayor and ex-Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro told demonstrators Sunday that it’s an issue “about what is right and what is wrong.”
The El Paso Times reports protesters chanted “Free the children now.”
More than 2,000 children were taken from their families in recent weeks under a Trump administration “zero tolerance” policy in which people entering the U.S. illegally face being prosecuted.
President Donald Trump tweeted in frustration Sunday that border crossers shouldn’t be entitled to a day in court.
The American Civil Liberties Union responded in a statement that the president’s suggestion was “both illegal and unconstitutional.”
In the Texas town of McAllen, Central American asylum-seekers are being released and are dispersing across the U.S.
That is admittedly only one snapshot of the unsettled situation along the nation’s southern border, where President Donald Trump’s reversal on separating families has sown chaos and uncertainty and there has been little guidance from the administration.
Among those set free is Manuel Martinez, who says he fled Honduras because gangs were trying to recruit his 12-year-old son.
Martinez was prepared to be separated from his child after paying a smuggler to cross the Rio Grande by boat and getting arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol. But his worst fears never came true.
Father and son were reunited on Saturday, after five days apart, and were released into the U.S. while Martinez pursues asylum.