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Are immigrant families being separated unlawfully?

An Illinois senator has accused the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of separating immigrant families unlawfully. A coalition of Democrats has requested an investigation into whether families in immigration custody are being unlawfully separated from their children. At this time, it’s unclear if the senator’s claims are true, but there have been some reported incidents of this happening.

The Department of Homeland Security has denied the allegations, saying via its spokesperson that DHS only separates parents and children when it’s in the children’s interest. For example, this might happen when DHS suspects that human trafficking or abuse may be occurring.

That said, the DHS spokesperson did state that one instance happened in which a Congolese woman was separated from her daughter for months because it took too long to confirm that she was the mother. In this case, the mother was only brought back together with her daughter after a lawsuit was filed and DNA analysis confirmed her parental status.

In a letter from the acting inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, the inspector general stated that his office was going to conduct a review of potential issues relating to parental separations. That said, DHS continues to claim that in some situations, parental separations are impossible to avoid due to the fear of human traffickers pretending that they are the parents of minor children they are trying to traffic.

Do you know someone who was separated from their children while in immigration custody? It is vital that these individuals fully understand their legal rights and options under U.S. immigration law.

Source: CNN, “Watchdog to investigate DHS family separations in immigration custody,” Tal Kopan, April 16, 2018