News Articles

Finding Hope in Defiance of Ongoing Family Separations

families immigrating to US
Image Credit: Quinn Kampschroer

By Jim Sliney Jr.

June 20, 2018 – The President of the United States signs an executive order to end family separations at the US/Mexico border.

June 26, 2018 – a federal judge in California orders the reunification of all families (about 2,700) that have been separated at the US/Mexico border. 

June 29, 2019 – NYTimes reports that 911 migrant children have, since June 26, 2018, been separated from 844 families.

Separations continue, according to Homeland Security secretary Kevin McAleena, “in the interest of the child”. The claim is that children are being taken away from adults with criminal backgrounds or when the child’s welfare is in danger. But Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrant’s Rights Project says, “The administration is still doing family separation under the guise that they are protecting children from their own parents, even though the (parents’) criminal history they are citing is either wrong or shockingly minor.”

The government’s report to the A.C.L.U. lists dozens of parents separated from a child as a result of traffic violations, drunken driving offenses, drug possession and fraud or forgery offenses, according to Mr. Gelernt.

Anthony Enriquez, director of the unaccompanied-minors program for the Archdiocese of New York’s Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Services informs us that Catholic Charities is among the advocacy agencies around the country that have joined in a filing from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) calling into question the validity of some of the separations. It’s “the same problem that we had over a year ago prior to the injunction that we hoped against hope would be stayed by the court,” he said. “But the government seems to not care about the court’s order, frankly.”

COMING TO NEW YORK

Enriquez reports that more than 300 children-of-separation have found their way to Catholic Charities in New York just since last summer. There are many Spanish-speaking foster families in New York which may be part of the reason why so many unaccompanied children come here. 

Catholic Charities of New York screens the unaccompanied children who arrive in New York (as well as families who have been separated from their children) and connects them with legal services. The Catholic Charities Office of Immigrant and Refugee Services provides this service and operates the phones at the New American Hotline of the Office for New Americans for the City of New York.

There may be little that Catholic Charities can do to alter the policies that lead to separation of families, but the services people end up needing will always be there and ready as long as good people decide it is worth supporting. Thank God, there are a lot of good people.