Asylum-seekers who have been separated from their children are apparently being told by Department of Homeland Security officials that they have to decide between continuing to seek asylum or seeing their kids again.
In a sick and twisted form of ransom, accounts from detention facilities from immigrant parents, who had been separated from their children under President Donald Trump’s orders, describe how those parents are being told they must voluntarily agree to be deported to get their children back.
A Honduran refugee father told the Texas Tribune he had to give up his asylum application and voluntarily sign a deportation agreement in order to reunite with his 6-year-old daughter, who is currently thousands of miles away in Arizona. The man initially agreed but is now trying to rescind his cooperation offer.
“I was told I would not be deported without my daughter. ... I signed it out of desperation,” the 24-year-old father said. “... but the truth is I can't go back to Honduras; I need help.”
The man said at least 20 other parents were given the same ultimatum.
DHS officials confirmed to MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff the accounts of this man and other immigrants. As Soboroff stated on Twitter, that could mean these children have already been sent out of the country.
NEW: DHS official tells me this morning separated parents were quickly given the option to sign paperwork leading to deportation. Many chose do so.— Jacob Soboroff (@jacobsoboroff) June 24, 2018
That would mean a *large* percentage of parents of the 2,053 kids left in HHS custody may no longer be in USA.
Asked for numbers.
Even if these parents consent to the deportation agreement, there’s no guarantee in place to ensure they’ll be reunited with their children. Cynthia Milian, an attorney who is working with Tahirih Justice Center, a charity for women and children immigrants, said she doubts that such a plan even exists.
“I doubt they would put his child on a plane to get her to where he would get deported out from, especially if she's in Arizona,” Milian said, citing specifically the situation outlined above.
It was a deplorable and unconscionable decision to separate asylum-seeking parents from their children to begin with. Now, these individuals with legitimate refugee status claims are being ransomed by the U.S. government, being told they must go back home to the countries they just escaped from in order to be reunited with their little ones.
This action cannot stand. The U.S. is supposed to be better than this, and this type of punishment cannot be deemed acceptable by decent Americans. The Trump administration must reverse this course of action immediately and begin reuniting parents with their children without tying it to their asylum claims.