Colorado residents may have heard about instances of immigrant families seeking asylum in which children were separated from their parents as they entered the United States. A watchdog for the Department of Homeland Security will investigate whether these separations are being done improperly.
The practice is a controversial one that supporters say is intended to ensure that children are not being trafficked and that traffickers are not using them to get into the country. However, in at least one case, the department acknowledges that a family verification was left too long after a Congolese woman was separated from her daughter for months. That case has resulted in a lawsuit involving the American Civil Liberties Union. The two have since been reunited after DNA confirmation of their relationship.
Courts have ruled that it is not legal to detain children for more than three weeks in immigration facilities. Under the Obama administration, families were supposed to be released together from these facilities, but the Trump administration says this is a loophole that allows people to remain in the country for years as they pursue asylum. A spokesman for the DHS says it is not policy to separate families as a matter of deterrence and that it is only done when the relationship of the adult and child cannot be established.
People who are facing deportation and removal or whose loved ones are facing it might want to talk to an attorney. A deportation order does not automatically mean that a person is going to be deported, and with immigration laws and how they are interpreted changing quickly, an attorney might be able to assist.