Family separation at the border | Michigan Radio
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Family separation at the border

On May 7, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration would be adopting a "zero tolerance" policy toward anyone caught crossing into the United States. 

As of June 20, that policy has resulted in over 2,300 children being separated from their families after crossing the US-Mexican border, according the Department of Homeland Security.

Learn more: What We Know: Family Separation And 'Zero Tolerance' At The Border

Michigan Radio is reporting on how this issue is playing out in our state. Those stories are featured below.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

A caravan of about 20 people, clergy and laypeople, will get on the road in Ann Arbor early Monday morning, heading to El Paso, Texas, to call attention to what it calls continuing immigration abuses by the Trump administration.

The caravan was the idea of Rabbi Josh Whinston of Temple Beth Emeth in Ann Arbor. Whinston spoke to a crowd of well-wishers at the temple Sunday night about why they're going.

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell
Courtesy https://debbiedingell.house.gov/about/full-bio

U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell is condemning a recently proposed Trump Administration regulation affecting immigrant children.

Dingell said the proposed rule would allow the federal government to hold immigrant children with their parents for prolonged periods of time in detention centers.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office in Grand Rapids
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The U.S. government is scrambling to meet Thursday's court-ordered deadline to reunite hundreds of children who were separated at the border with their parents.

About half of those families have been reunited.

Rabbi Josh Whinston
Kathryn Condon / Michigan Radio

  

The plight of migrant children being separated from their families at detention centers has grabbed the attention of many across the country. The first reunification deadline to reunite children under five with their families was Tuesday.

From this crisis many grassroots groups have sprung up, as parents, teachers, foster parents, and religious leaders search for ways to help migrant families who were separated.

Ever Reyes Mejia and his 3 year old son leaving the ICE office in Grand Rapids.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Three parents were able to finally see their children again today in Grand Rapids.

It had been three months since these dads seeking asylum in the U.S. were separated from their children. All of whom are under five years old.

Child and parent holding hands
Pixabay

A federal judge said last month the government must reunite all migrant children under the age of five with their families today, and Bethany Christian Services says their agency has met that deadline.

In a press conference Tuesday morning, Director of Refugee and Immigrant Services Dona Abbott said, "As of this morning, 100 percent of the children in Bethany's care that were forcfully separated under the zero tolerance policy under the age of have or will be reunified today." 

skalekkar1992 / pixabay

At least three parents in Michigan are hoping to be reunited with their young children today, after being separated at the southern U.S. border.

Grand Rapids
Steven Depolo / Flickr

Michigan members of Congress from both sides of the political aisle visited a refugee foster care facility in Grand Rapids today.

Democrats Debbie Dingell and Dan Kildee, along with Republican Bill Huizenga are urging the Trump administration to speed up the process of reuniting families separated at the southern border.

smart phone open to facebook
Saulo Mohana / Unsplash

 


Amidst the public uproar over the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border, there was a notable push-back from leading airlines.

United, American, Southwest, and Frontier all announced they did not want the government using their planes to transport separated children, saying it defied their corporate values 

These airlines are just some of the corporations to openly resist the President, pointing to a trend of increased corporate activism. 

Congressmen Tim Walberg (left) and Bill Huizenga (right)
U.S. House of Representatives

Two congressmen from Michigan were denied access to a site where refugee children are staying.

Congressmen Bill Huizenga and Tim Walberg represent Michigan’s second and seventh congressional districts, respectively.

The two visited with Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids today to discuss legislation that aims to reunite families that were separated at the country’s southern border.

Judge's gavel with books on a desk
Pixabay.com

President Trump's executive order ending family separations at the southern border, but leaving in place the zero-tolerance policy, did nothing to quell the national anger and confusion.

Trump's order did not address what happens for some 2,300 children who have already been taken from their parents after crossing the border. Those children are currently in shelters and foster care across the country, inlcuding here in Michigan.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office was shut down for a brief time Monday morning, as activists protesting U.S. immigration policies blocked driveways outside the ICE office.

It's part of a larger protest that aims to "occupy" Detroit ICE headquarters this week.

Detainees being housed inside fenced rooms at a government facility.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol

Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and 50 female Democratic colleagues are pressing the Secretaries for Homeland Security and Health and Human Services to explain where the government is keeping the girls who've been taken from migrant parents. 

So far, the government has only released photos of older boys in make-shift detention centers.  The government has also sent some children to foster agencies in other states, including Michigan.

dona abbott
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

 

This April, the Trump Administration announced its “zero-tolerance policy” for immigration. It requires every person caught crossing the United State’s southern border be prosecuted in federal criminal court. Since it is against U.S. law for a child to be housed with a parent in a federal prison, children are being separated from the parents who brought them across the border.

Rachel and Adam / Bethany Christian Services

 


Young children separated from their families at the border cannot be held in immigration detention centers for more than three days. After 72 hours, the Office of Refugee Resettlement looks to find a shelter or foster care home for the child.  

 

Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron
Courtesy of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit

 


The Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the border has generated criticism and condemnation.

The so-called "zero tolerance" policy resulted in the separation of 1,995 children from their families during the six-week period between April 16 and May 31. That number is now estimated to be well over 2,000 children. 

This weekend, current first lady Melania Trump as well as all living former first ladies — both Republican and Democrat — spoke out against the policy. 

Christian leaders across denominations have also publicly condemned the measure. 

The border crossing at Lukeville, Arizona.
Flickr user Alan Levine

Some members of Michigan's Republican Congressional delegation have issued strong or tepid statements against the Trump Administration's policy on separating families at the border. 

Detainees being housed inside fenced rooms at a government facility.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol

The Trump administration's zero-tolerance border policy has meant some 2,000 migrant children have been taken away from their families.

Families Belong Together protest in Columbus, Ohio.
Flickr user Becker1999

The Trump administration has adopted a "zero tolerance" policy toward anyone caught crossing the United States border. As a result, in the past six weeks alone, over 2,000 children have been separated from their parents and put in government custody or foster care.