Immigrant Families Must Pay Hefty Fees To Reunite With Separated Kids

"The government is creating impossible barriers and penalizing poverty," said an immigration director of Oakland about families having to pay to get child migrants out of detention.

Just last month, in the wake of the widespread outrage at home and abroad, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end the separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

However, it remained highly unclear when and how the process of reunification of families will begin.

According to a recent New York Times report, detained immigrant children separated from their parents may have the chance to be released – if their extended families or sponsors pony up hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars for them.

The border officials are reportedly demanding families to pay transportation costs for children to get from government-contracted detention centers to the sponsor’s home.

It appears, despite of widespread public outcry, the Trump administration’s onslaught on immigrants just keeps worsening, as raking thousands of dollars from people who can barely afford a living is nothing but needless cruelty on immigrants.

In fact, many of them have spent their entire lifes’ savings just to get to the U.S. Little did they know, the dreams and hopes of living a better life would turn into a nightmare of having their kids snatched from their arms.

For instance, the publication shared the story of Marlon Parada, a construction worker who makes $3,000 per month and was left to deal with the dilemma of paying $1,800 to fly his cousin’s daughter, who was detained in Houston, to Los Angeles.

“It caught me by surprise when they demanded all that money,” said Parada.

However, Parada wasn’t the only one. Other family sponsors were left with the strenuous task of raking these exorbitant transfer fees just to get the kids released.

A Salvadoran woman was reportedly required to pay $4,000 to fly her niece and nephew from Texas to California with an escort.

In some cases, the family sponsors had to look elsewhere to scrape together enough money. For instance, a Guatemalan woman had to borrow money to pay the $2,500 to fly her teenage relatives from Texas to New York.

“It was a nearly impossible amount for a single mother earning $200 a week,” Crystal Fleming, a lawyer at the Legal Assistance Group, told the Times about the Guatemalan woman.

The policy came into light from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which has custody of immigrant children until they’re released.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) argued the practice of charging sponsors to cover travel costs for children released from federally-operated detention centers is not new. However, the department’s claim was only half of the truth–as the Trump administration might not have instituted the policy, but it did restore it.

In 2016, the Obama administration, in the wake of a surge in border crossings, began waiving fees of releasing a detainee as they didn’t want the federal detention facilities to get overwhelmed by a lot of occupants.

But, the Trump administration is apparently operating on a completely opposite theory, focusing more upon enriching government contractors than simply flying back the minors to their families.

Moreover, relatives and others looking to sponsor children separated from their families are not just required to liquidate their savings–they might as well get very much deported. Under a new rule, all adults in a household, willing to sponsor a migrant child, will be required to submit their fingerprints to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Also, the authorities will also visit their houses and subject them to other forms of screenings to determine whether they can afford the child. All these conditions and measures are bound to scare many potential sponsors away from taking on the additional responsibility.

The report also noted even if individuals passed all such aggressive screening tactics, there were cases where they were denied sponsor status over most insignificant of details.

“One potential sponsor was rejected recently because authorities decided she could not afford the child’s medication,” Immigration director Desai told the Times.

Another potential sponsor, a mother of two children, “was told that her house was not large enough to accommodate a third child.”

It is absolutely abhorrent how the current administration is exploiting the situation of immigrants by raking hundreds of dollars from them to set the kids free that they detained in the first place. It costs the government far more to house and care for them than to simply fly them to their families–but it appears making lives of immigrants a living hell is its ulterior motive.


Banner Image Credits: REUTERS/Loren Elliott

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