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Reports: Migrants told they’ll be reunited with children if they sign voluntary deportation order

The Hill logo The Hill 6/24/2018 Brett Samuels
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Detained Central American migrants who have been separated from their children have been told they can reunite with them if they agree to voluntarily deportations, The Texas Tribune reported Sunday.

The news outlet, citing a detained Honduran man and two immigration lawyers, reported that the migrants have been told they would be reunited with their children at an airport if they agree to sign off on deportations.

The Honduran man, who was not identified, said he gave up his asylum case and signed the paperwork in an effort to reunite with his 6-year-old daughter. He said he's now trying to rescind his agreement and fight his case in court.

An immigration advocate, Anne Chandler, Houston director of the Tahirih Justice Center, told the Tribune that she'd heard of similar cases.

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The two attorney, meanwhile expressed concerns about the validity of the offer of reunification in exchange for deportation.

A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement told the news outlet that ICE was unable to look into the allegations because no identifying information was provided about the man.

A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) fact sheet released Sunday morning about the administration's "zero tolerance" policy indicated that parents who are to be deported can request their child accompany them.

"A parent who is ordered removed from the U.S. may request that his or her minor child accompany them. It should be noted that in the past many parents have elected to be removed without their children," the fact sheet states.

The DHS release said the government knows where each of the more than 2,000 separated migrant children are, but did not elaborate on a timetable for when they might be reunited with their family members.

President Trump signed an executive order last Wednesday halting the practice of family separation that occurred under his administration's "zero tolerance" policy. Trump's rare reversal came after he and administration officials, for days, said only Congress could address the issue.

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The Trump administration has faced overwhelming bipartisan backlash migrant family separations, which were a direct result of the administration's zero tolerance policy. Democrats and Republicans alike have called family separations "cruel" and "inhumane."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the zero tolerance initiative in April, saying the Department of Justice would criminally prosecute those who cross the border illegally. As a result, he acknowledged, children would be separated from parents who were taken into custody.

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