U.S. Law Center

Understanding child separation at the border

The story that has dominated headlines over the last week involves the United States government separating families at the border. Despite the fact many of these immigrants come to the country seeking asylum status, many end up losing contact with their children, and the American public has recently learned of the conditions these children are in. 

Although unfair conditions for immigrants have been around for a while, the policy of separating children from their parents began in April of this year. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions implemented a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who crosses the border illegally, which includes both adults and children. This policy is unique to the Trump administration, and as of this writing, lawmakers have done nothing to stop the practice.

What happens to these children?

It begins at the Customs and Border Protection detention facility. Border agents will remove children from their parents, and there has been one instance of a child ripped from her mother as the mom was breastfeeding her. Border Patrol sends these children to a longer-term shelter. Due to the influx of children heading to these facilities, Border Patrol has begun installing new structures to house kids, including a tent camp in Tornillo, Texas. 

Reports have slowly begun leaking about these structures, but there is still a lot of information agents have kept from the public. The parents will undergo trial for crossing the border illegally, and there is the promise the parents will reunite with their children after the process is over. 

Conditions children live in

Reporters have released photos of the conditions the children live in. Despite U.S. Border Patrol being uncomfortable with the use of the word "cages," that is precisely what the children are in. In one facility, agents give children space blankets. They receive bottles of water and chips for sustenance. There are numerous organizations to donate to if you wish to aid in the efforts to reunite children with their parents, including Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, RAICES, The CARA Project and Justice for Our Neighbors.

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