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Carranza writes: "The federal government continues forcibly removing minors from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, in violation of President Donald Trump's executive order calling for an end to the practice, as well as a court ruling asking his administration to reunite the families, a Texas migrants rights group alleged Friday."

A Honduran family stands next to the border fence after they turned themselves in to Border Patrol agents. (photo: John Moore/Getty Images)
A Honduran family stands next to the border fence after they turned themselves in to Border Patrol agents. (photo: John Moore/Getty Images)


Rights Group Claims Family Separations Continue at Border, Despite Trump's Executive Order

By Rafael Carranza, Arizona Republic

14 July 18

he federal government continues forcibly removing minors from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, in violation of President Donald Trump's executive order calling for an end to the practice, as well as a court ruling asking his administration to reunite the families, a Texas migrants rights group alleged Friday.

The Texas Civil Rights Project said it has documented an incident from the past weekend in which Border Patrol agents at the McAllen station in the Rio Grande Valley separated Mario Perez-Domingo, a 24-year-old Guatemalan migrant, from his two-year-old daughter.

Agents caught Perez-Domingo crossing the border illegally on July 5 and referred him for criminal prosecution two days later, according to a letter the group sent U.S. Customs and Border Protection that seeks the immediate reunification of the family members.

"This should not have happened after the administration apparently, or at least told they American public, that they had changed course and taken a different policy," said Efren Olivares, director of the Project's Racial and Economic Justice Program.

"The problem continues," he added. "So the takeaway is that as long as the 'zero tolerance' is in place the separations could happen any day."

Olivares said they learned about the separation while monitoring courts in McAllen. The area remains the busiest transit corridor along the U.S.-Mexico border and, as a result, has been at the forefront of the family-separation debate.

The separations stemmed from the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy on illegal entries, which resulted in more than 3,500 children being taken away from their parents in a span of nearly six weeks. After a nationwide outcry, Trump signed an executive order calling for an end to the separations.

A federal judge ordered the administration to reunite minors under the age of five by July 10 and the remaining minors by July 26. To date, the government has reunited about 600 minors, including more than 50 toddlers under the first deadline from the judge's ruling.

The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees CBP, acknowledged that they continue to separate minors from adults caught crossing the border illegally, under certain circumstances. Those circumstances include if agents can't verify the relationship between the adult and minor, or if the parent is deemed to be a risk for the minor.

The Project's letter said that in Perez-Domingo's case, agents removed his daughter because they couldn't verify the authenticity of her birth certificate. But the group said they immediately got confirmation from the Guatemalan consulate on it's validity, and submitted it to CBP.

"Yesterday, we were told on a phone conversation that we were 'good to go' that the situation was going to be resolved," Olivares said. "But 24 hours later, there is still no reunification."

CBP was unable to provide an update on Perez-Domingo's case.

Some 3,000 minors remain in the federal government's custody, with a July 26 deadline looming. The Department of Health and Human Services, which cares for those minors, and DHS missed the first deadline to reunite 103 minors under the age of five by July 10.

To date, they reunited 57 of those toddlers, but they said the remaining minors were ineligible for reunification because the parents were deemed a risk to children or they had already been deported.


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