Should immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. be separated from their children? That question is at the heart of a dispute between immigration groups and the Trump administration.
A Congolese woman and her 6-year-old daughter have been caught in the crosshairs of this immigration system. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the two had been on a perilous journey through 10 countries before finally arriving at the Port of San Diego in a shipping container and then seeking asylum. But during the vetting process, the woman’s daughter was taken away and sent to Chicago to live in a shelter. Their names have not been revealed.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on Monday met with the mother, who says there was a credible fear for her safety in her home country of the Congo. Asylum-seekers have to prove they are escaping danger at home and by law can be granted legal status in the U.S. What’s inexplicable, according to Durbin, is why the two had to be separated while the case was going through the system.
“Why did we remove this child from this mother’s care?” Durbin said. “There was no suspicion that the mother was unfit or in any way harming the child. But the explanation I was given at the time was, ‘That’s not the way we do things, we’ll look into it.’ It turns out, it’s the official policy of the Trump administration.”
The issue of children being separated from the families of border-crossers has garnered a lot of attention lately. Democrats have blamed Trump and Trump has, in turn, blamed Democrats.
An official with the Department of Homeland Security says the policy of separating children from families of illegal border crossers predates the current administration. The official says that the Obama administration enforced about 20 percent of these cases, while the current administration is trying to prosecute all of them. The policy means that, when undocumented border-crossers are detained, children are put into the custody of Health and Human Services. But DHS says it is not policy to separate children of asylum-seekers. They wouldn’t comment on what happened in this particular case.
By Paris Schutz for CHICAGO TONIGHT
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