Families will no longer be separated at the border but no reunification plan has been announced

Claudia Buccio

After local and international criticism, President Trump announced that the U.S. government will no longer separate families seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border; however, his zero tolerance policy is still in place. This means that adults crossing the border without proper documentation will be prosecuted.

“I did not like the sight or feeling of having families separated,” President Trump said. “We are working on a much more comprehensive bill. A lot of good things are happening towards immigration, but we have to have strong borders.”

Although less than 1% of the cases of families separated at the border were Mexican, the Mexican government said it stands in solidarity with the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in order to reach a multilateral agreement.

Hugo Rene Oliva Romero, the Mexican deputy consul in San Bernardino said that Mexico condemned the separation of families at the border. Most of the Mexican children affected by this policy are back in their home country. 

Mexico has faced criticism by the Trump administration for not having stronger policies at their border and for allowing Central American immigrants to cross through Mexico with the goal of entering the U.S.

“Mexico not only faces the issue of immigrant crossings but also, Mexico is both a point of departure and a point of destination,” Oliva Romero said when describing the complex relationship at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Mexican authorities are putting the necessary policies in place, so families don’t face a more complicated situation than what they lived through while crossing Mexico,” Oliva Romero added.

Michael Harrington, an immigration attorney in the Coachella Valley, said that these immigrant families detained at the border need all the help they can get, especially legal assistance.

Regardless of any updates in asylum cases set by the Administration, Harrington said that those stuck in detention centers are probably eligible for an asylum protection “because these people are fleeing countries that are ran by gangs and violence and their lives are often at risk unless they leave.”

As  of now, Harrington offers two legal options for these families.

“The adults should not plead guilty and get deported back to their home country when they have their kids here,” he said.

Harrington recommended these families to ask for bail or for a trial instead of being deported.

Regarding the children, the best option is to see “if there’s any family or friends that can come forward to sponsor and claim that they are responsible for that child. There is a petition for a special child immigrant,” Harrington said.

Because of the large number of immigration cases coming in, it is hard to tell how long it will take for these families to solve their current situation. The Trump Administration has not announced a plan to help reunite the families that have already been separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.