US migrant crisis
LATEST UPDATE: September 20, 2018 - 7:26am
LOCATION:
+ Follow Story
September 20, 2018

Twice in less than a year, the US federal government has lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children after placing them in the homes of sponsors across the country, federal officials have acknowledged.

The Health and Human Services Department recently told Senate staffers that case managers could not find 1,488 children after they made follow-up calls to check on their safety from April through June. That number represents about 13 percent of all unaccompanied children the administration moved out of shelters and foster homes during that time.

The agency first disclosed that it had lost track of 1,475 children late last year, as it came under fire at a Senate hearing in April. Lawmakers had asked HHS officials how they had strengthened child protection policies since it came to light that the agency previously had rolled back safeguards meant to keep Central American children from ending up in the hands of human traffickers. — AP

September 19, 2018

The arrest of a US Border Patrol supervisor on allegations that he killed four women calls new attention to the agency's problems keeping rogue officers off its force as it faces intense pressure to hire thousands more agents.

Juan David Ortiz, who worked in the agency's Laredo sector, is accused of targeting women believed to be prostitutes in what prosecutors say is the work of a serial killer.

The Border Patrol and prosecutors portrayed Ortiz as an outlier who is not representative of the thousands of employees working for the agency around the country.

"I would hate for this to tarnish the great work that those men and women do," Border Patrol chief Carla Provost said at a news conference alongside prosecutors and other law enforcement officials. — AP

September 6, 2018

A nonprofit group that manages a program aimed at helping detained immigrants navigate the country's complex immigration court system says a Justice Department review of the program was flawed.

The Justice Department review found that people in the program had longer detentions and were less likely to get lawyers than people not in it. It also found that some of the program's participants were more likely to eventually be allowed to stay in the country.

The Justice Department manages the Legal Orientation Program through a contract with the New York-based Vera Institute of Justice.

The institute said Wednesday cases are significantly more likely to be completed faster because of the program. It has called on Congress to investigate before adopting the Justice Department review's results. — AP

September 1, 2018

The Trump administration is under increasing pressure to speed up the reunification of immigrant families it separated at the Mexican border, following allegations three youngsters were sexually abused while in U.S. custody.

The government of El Salvador says the three, ages 12 to 17, were victimized at shelters in Arizona, and it asked the U.S. to make their return a priority. — AP

August 30, 2018

Lawyers for the mother of a toddler who died several weeks after being released from a family immigration detention center are going after the Arizona city of Eloy and say they plan to file more legal claims related to the child's death.

The Arizona Republic reports that the claim filed Tuesday contends that Eloy had a duty to maintain safe and sanitary conditions at the facility in Dilley, Texas.

The detention center is operated by CoreCivic, which subcontracts with Eloy for the services.

The claim accuses medical staff of failing to provide Mariee Juarez with adequate care after the girl became sick inside the Texas facility.

Eloy City Attorney Stephen Cooper did not immediate return a message seeking comment.  — AP

August 23, 2018

Immigration activists who say the new Phoenix-area sheriff is not much different than former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was known for his immigration patrols, are protesting at the county jail Wednesday in an ongoing effort to get immigration authorities out of there.

The protest is part of a national movement known as Abolish ICE, which aims to end the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. The effort has gained traction and become a favorite topic for election candidates, especially in Arizona, where they've all been asked if they support abolishing the agency.

But locals say abolishing ICE starts in Phoenix, where its officers have free range to ask anyone in jail about their immigration status. — AP

August 22, 2018

US President Donald Trump says the case of a slain Iowa college student is illustrative of the nation's disgraceful immigration laws.

Trump asked his audience at a rally Tuesday in Charleston, West Virginia, whether they had heard about the "illegal alien" from Mexico. Iowa police said earlier Tuesday that a man in the US illegally has been charged with murder in the death of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts, who vanished more than a month ago while out for a run.

Trump says, "You saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman. Should have never happened."

Trump adds, "The immigration laws are such a disgrace."

Trump ran on a platform of cracking down on illegal immigration to the US. He opened his campaign by condemning most Mexicans as criminals.

August 21, 2018

A federal judge in Boston is hearing arguments in a case centered on whether immigrants married to US citizens but facing deportation should be allowed to remain in the country while they seek to become legal residents.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the class action lawsuit, says a special exemption created under former US President Barack Obama's administration allows certain non-citizen spouses of US citizens to remain in the country while they apply for legal status through marriage.

But the organization argues that the 2016 Department of Homeland Security waiver, which was meant to prevent breaking up families and causing unnecessary hardship, isn't being honored by Republican President Donald Trump's administration, which has made stepped up immigration enforcement a priority. — AP

August 16, 2018

The US government has made only incremental improvements to its troubled efforts to care for thousands of migrant children detained entering the US without their parents, perpetuating a problem the Trump administration has aggravated with its "zero tolerance" immigration crackdown, a bipartisan Senate report says.

The 52-page study says no federal agency takes responsibility for making sure children aren't abused or used in human trafficking once the government places them with sponsors, who sometimes aren't their parents or close relatives.

Immigration judges are ordering the deportation of growing proportions of these children partly because the government does little to ensure they get to court, and officials haven't provided sufficient mental health services for some of them, the report says. — AP

August 10, 2018

A federal judge has halted a deportation in progress and threatened to hold U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt if the mother and daughter weren't returned to the U.S.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of Washington learned in court that the two plaintiffs in a lawsuit before him were being removed from the United States and confirmed later that they were on a plane headed to Central America. He said any delay in bringing them back would be intolerable. — AP

August 9, 2018

A large federal law enforcement operation conducted Wednesday targeted businesses in Nebraska and Minnesota that officials say knowingly hired — and mistreated — immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.

The investigative arm of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement — Homeland Security Investigations — led the operation that saw about a dozen businesses and plants raided and 17 business owners and managers indicted for fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

Of those, 14 were taken into custody Wednesday and three were still being sought. Authorities also arrested more than 130 workers at various businesses, busing them to Grand Island, Nebraska, to be questioned and processed. — AP

August 7, 2018

A refugee from Iraq charged with shooting a Colorado police officer last week was set for deportation before a federal appeals court ruled in 2016 that a portion of immigration law defining violent crime was too vague, a Department of Homeland Security official says.

The DHS official, who was not authorized to discuss the case on the record and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said Monday that federal immigration authorities began deportation proceedings against Karrar Noaman Al Khammasi after he violated probation terms of a felony trespassing plea in 2015. —AP

August 2, 2018

 A divided U.S. appeals court has struck down a key part of President Donald Trump's contentious effort to crack down on cities and states that limit cooperation with immigration officials, saying an executive order threatening to cut funding for "sanctuary cities" was unconstitutional.

In a 2-1 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court that the order exceeded the president's authority. Congress alone controls spending under the U.S. Constitution, and presidents do not have the power to withhold funding it approves to pursue their policy goals, the court majority said. — AP

July 31, 2018

A federal judge rules Monday that the US government must seek consent before administering psychotropic drugs to immigrant children held at a Texas facility.

US District Judge Dolly M. Gee in Los Angeles issued a ruling that the federal government violated portions of a longstanding settlement governing the treatment of immigrant children caught crossing the border.

Gee said the government must obtain consent or a court order to give children psychotropic medications at a Texas facility under state law unless it's an emergency.

She also said officials must tell children in writing why they are in a secure facility and that gang affiliation alone doesn't justify such a placement.

"The kids weren't getting notice of why they were sent away," said Holly Cooper, co-director of the Immigration Law Clinic at University of California, Davis, and one of the lawyers representing detained immigrant children. "We view this as a victory." — AP

July 30, 2018

US President Donald Trump says he will consider shutting down the government if Democrats refuse to vote for his immigration proposals, including a US-Mexico border wall.

Republicans, trying to protect their majority in Congress, are playing down the chance of a shutdown as the November election nears. Trump, however, isn't backing away from the idea.

"I would be willing to 'shut down' government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!" Trump says in a tweet. "Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT!"

"We need great people coming into our Country!" Trump says.

July 27, 2018

The Trump administration says more than 1,800 children separated at the U.S.-Mexico border have been reunited with parents and sponsors but hundreds remain apart.

The government said in a court filing Thursday that 1,820 children ages 5 and up have been discharged. This includes 1,442 children reunified with their parents in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody and 378 others who were released "in other appropriate circumstances."

Still, more than 700 parents were deemed not eligible or currently not eligible, many of whom may have been deported. Of those, 431 children have parents outside the United States.

More than 2,500 children were separated from their parents at the border amid a zero tolerance policy that criminally prosecuted anyone caught crossing illegally. — AP

July 27, 2018

The Trump administration says that more than 1,800 children separated at the U.S.-Mexico border have been reunited with parents and sponsors but hundreds remain apart, signaling a potentially arduous task ahead as it deals with the fallout of its "zero tolerance" policy on people entering the U.S. illegally.

There have been 1,442 children 5 and older reunified with their parents in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody and 378 others who were released "in other appropriate circumstances," including to other sponsors, the Justice Department said in a court filing.

Still, more than 700 parents were deemed not eligible or currently not eligible, many of whom may have been deported. Of those, 431 children have parents outside the United States. — AP

July 26, 2018

Two congressmen who attended a private meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen say she told the group, "I am not a racist."

One of them is Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez. He says Nielsen cited her friendship with the first lady of Honduras and other Latina women.

Around 20 Democratic members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus met with Nielsen to ask about the administration's now-abandoned policy of separating migrant children from their detained parents.

Texas Democratic Rep. Joaquin tweeted that Nielsen said she is not a racist and said no one believes families should be separated.

Gutierrez says he had accused Nielsen of working for "a racist regime." — AP 

July 24, 2018

The Trump administration says that nearly 1,200 family reunifications have occurred for children 5 and older who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, still leaving hundreds to go before this week's court-imposed deadline.

There have been 1,187 reunifications "or other appropriate discharges" by the Health and Human Services Department's Office of Refugee Resettlement, which took custody of the children, the Justice Department said in a court filing. It was not immediately clear what "other appropriate discharges" referred to.

The administration has identified 2,551 children 5 and older who have been separated from their families.

US District Judge Dana Sabraw has set a deadline of Thursday for the government to reunite all older children with their parents. He set an earlier deadline for dozens of children under 5. — AP

July 23, 2018

US District Judge Dana Sabraw appeared conflicted in early May on whether to stop families from being separated at the border. He challenged the Trump administration to explain how families were getting a fair hearing guaranteed by the Constitution, but also expressed reluctance to get too deeply involved with immigration enforcement.

"There are so many (enforcement) decisions that have to be made, and each one is individual," he said in his calm, almost monotone voice. "How can the court issue such a blanket, overarching order telling the attorney general, either release or detain (families) together?"

Sabraw showed how more than seven weeks later in a blistering opinion faulting the administration and its "zero tolerance" policy for a "crisis" of its own making. He went well beyond the American Civil Liberties Union's initial request to halt family separation — which President Donald Trump effectively did on his own amid a backlash — by imposing a deadline of this Thursday to reunify more than 2,500 children with their families. — AP 

July 20, 2018

The Trump administration says it has reunified 364 children ages 5 and older with their families after they were separated at the border, still leaving hundreds to go before a court-imposed deadline of next Thursday.

The Justice Department reaffirmed in a court filing Thursday that it has identified 2,551 children who may be covered by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw's order. — AP

July 17, 2018

A federal judge on Monday orders a temporary halt to deportations of immigrant families reunited after being separated at the border, as the Trump administration races to meet a July 26 deadline for putting more than 2,500 children back in their parents' arms.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw imposed a delay of at least a week after a request from the American Civil Liberties Union, which cited "persistent and increasing rumors ... that mass deportations may be carried out imminently and immediately upon reunification."

Justice Department attorney Scott Stewart opposed the delay but did not address the rumors in court. — AP

July 14, 2018

The Trump administration says it expects to begin reunifying about 2,500 children ages 5 and older with their parents after they were separated at the border.

The Justice Department says in a court filing in San Diego that the reunifications are expected to begin and occur "on a rolling basis" up to a July 26 court-imposed deadline.

The reunifications will occur at six to eight unidentified U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement locations.

The administration says it is using truncated procedures to verify parentage and perform background checks. It says those procedures raise child safety concerns but are being used to comply with court orders. — AP

July 13, 2018

The Trump administration said Thursday all eligible small children who were separated from their families as a result of its zero-tolerance immigration policy have been reunited with their parents.

But nearly half of the children under 5 remain apart from their families because of safety concerns, the deportation of their parents and other issues, the administration said.

The administration was under a court mandate to reunite families separated between early May and June 20, when President Donald Trump signed an executive order that stopped separations. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of a woman who had been separated from her child, and U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw ordered all children reunited with their parents.

Fifty-seven children were reunited with their parents as of Thursday morning, administration officials said. — AP

July 12, 2018

Advocates for asylum-seeking parents who have been detained in Washington state say some have started to be released from custody, but it's unclear when they might be reunited with their children.

The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle says it knows of 55 people detained at the U.S.-Mexico border before being separated from their children and transferred to Washington under U.S. President Donald Trump's "zero-tolerance" policy.

One, 24-year-old Yolany Padilla, from Honduras, was released on $8,000 bond from a private immigration jail in Tacoma on Friday. Another was released Monday and three more on Wednesday.

Padilla's attorneys told a news conference Wednesday her son remains in federal custody in New York, and it's unclear when the government will release him to her. She says he cries when she speaks to him because he can't understand why they haven't been reunited. — AP

July 11, 2018

Lugging little backpacks, smiling immigrant children were scooped up into their parents' arms Tuesday as the Trump administration scrambled to meet a court-ordered deadline to reunite dozens of youngsters forcibly separated from their families at the border.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, two boys and a girl who had been in temporary foster care were reunited with their Honduran fathers at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement center about three months after they were split up.

The three fathers were "just holding them and hugging them and telling them that everything was fine and that they were never going to be separated again," said immigration lawyer Abril Valdes. — AP

July 10, 2018

A Los Angeles federal judge has rejected a Trump administration request to detain immigrant families together, calling it a "cynical" attempt to undo a longstanding court settlement.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee said Monday that the federal government had failed to present new evidence to support revising a court order that limits the detention of children who crossed the border illegally.

The Department of Justice asked Gee to alter a 1997 settlement after the president reversed his zero-tolerance policy that caused uproar when children were taken from their parents in emotional scenes caught on camera.

The government wants to change the settlement so it can detain families together. — AP

July 10, 2018

More than 50 immigrant children under age 5 will be reunited with their parents by Tuesday's court-ordered deadline for action by Trump administration, and the families will then be released into the U.S., a government attorney says.

That's only about half of the 100 or so toddlers covered by the order.

At a court hearing, Justice Department lawyer Sarah Fabian acknowledged the government wouldn't meet the deadline for all the children, citing a variety of reasons, including that the parents of some of the youngsters have already been deported. — AP

July 6, 2018

Pope Francis is celebrating a special Mass for migrants in St. Peter's Basilica, calling attention to their plight and inviting them to the Vatican as Europe, the U.S. and other countries increasingly close their doors to them.

Several migrants and representatives of aid groups that care for them were among the guests at the intimate Mass marking the fifth anniversary of Francis' landmark visit to Lampedusa, the Sicilian island that for years was the primary destination of migrants smuggled from Libya.

During that trip the new pope denounced what he called the "globalization of indifference" shown by the world to migrants escaping war, poverty and climate-induced natural disasters. — AP

June 30, 2018

Liberal activists, parents and first-time protesters motivated by accounts of children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border plan to rally in hundreds of cities nationwide Saturday to press President Donald Trump's administration to reunite the families quickly.

More than 600 marches could draw hundreds of thousands of people across the country, from immigrant-friendly cities like Los Angeles and New York City to conservative Appalachia and Wyoming under the banner Families Belong Together. — AP

June 30, 2018

The Trump administration says a ruling this week by a federal judge in San Diego requiring the government to reunify families separated at the border means authorities can legally keep families detained, even those seeking asylum.

The Department of Justice says in a court filing that the government is allowed to detain families now that the California judge has barred their separation.

The filing cites exemptions in a settlement known as the Flores agreement that allow authorities to keep families in custody.

The Flores agreement requires the government to release children "without unnecessary delay," which the government has generally interpreted to mean about 20 days.

The government is still pushing to amend the agreement, despite its new interpretation.

The judge in San Diego on Tuesday set a 30-day deadline for reuniting parents and children, and quicker for very young kids. — AP

June 28, 2018

The plaintiff in a lawsuit against the separation of immigrant parents from their children says she hopes a judge's order will prompt the government to act quickly.

A Brazilian mother who identified herself only as Jocelyn because of her asylum case said Thursday that she went more than nine months without seeing her son after they were separated at the Texas border in August 2017. She doesn't want other mothers to go through the same thing.

A U.S. District Court judge in San Diego ordered Tuesday that thousands of immigrant children be reunited with parents within 30 days, or sooner for young children.

Jocelyn now lives with her son in a shelter in El Paso pending the outcome of legal proceedings. — AP

June 27, 2018

The clock is ticking for the Trump administration after a federal judge ordered thousands of migrant children and parents reunited within 30 days, sooner if the youngster is under 5, The Associated Press reports.

The hard deadline was set Tuesday night by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego after President Donald Trump's order ending the separation of families at the Mexican border gave way to days of uncertainty, conflicting information and no guidance from the administration on when parents might see their children again.

"This situation has reached a crisis level," Sabraw wrote.

June 27, 2018

A judge in California has ordered U.S. border authorities to reunite separated families within 30 days.

If the children are younger than 5, they must be reunified within 14 days of the order, issued Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego issued the order in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. The lawsuit involves a 7-year-old girl who was separated from her Congolese mother and a 14-year-old boy who was separated from his Brazilian mother.  — AP

June 26, 2018

The children at the center of the national debate over President Donald Trump's immigration policy have been heard about but rarely seen, The Associated Press reports.

News organizations say they are pushing back every day against Trump administration restrictions on access to facilities where children separated from their parents are being held. Government handouts satisfy few, and there have been disputes raised in some of the few independent instances where a sense emerges of what is happening at the border.

New video emerged late Monday on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC program allegedly showing young children at a government facility in New York City. Maddow said it was taken and smuggled out by an employee who has since quit and wishes to remain anonymous.

June 24, 2018

Trump administration officials say the U.S. government knows the location of all children in its custody after separating them from their families at the border and is working to reunite them.

A fact sheet on "zero-tolerance prosecution and family reunification" released Saturday night by the Department of Homeland Security also says a parent must request that their child be deported with them. In the past, the agency says, many parents have elected to be deported without their children. That may be a reflection of violence or persecution they face in their home countries.

As part of the effort, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have posted notices in all its facilities advising detained parents who are trying to find or communicate with their children to call a hotline staffed 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. — AP

June 24, 2018

President Donald Trump presses his tough anti-illegal immigration stance before supporters Saturday, saying "we have to be very strong" as he sought to help boost the candidacy of a one-time critic.

Trump portrays himself as the toughest against illegal immigration, saying at one point, "I think I got elected largely because we are strong on the border."

But he excluded any mention of the fact that a massive public outcry, including from members of his own family, forced him to reverse course this week and end the practice of separating children from families after they illegally cross the southern border into the U.S. — AP

June 23, 2018

Kansas' child welfare agency has concluded after an inspection that immigrant children housed in Topeka group homes are "having their needs met."

Spokeswoman Taylor Forrest issued an email statement Friday evening after the state Department for Children and Families completed an inspection of The Villages homes on a 400-acre site outside Topeka. The statement was not specific about the inspector's findings.

Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer ordered the inspection after four Democratic legislators accused him of not being aggressive enough in seeking information about the immigrant children at The Villages homes.

The nonprofit group has a contract with the federal government to house up to 50 unaccompanied immigrant children. It's not clear how many were separated from their parents during a recent crackdown at the U.S-Mexico border. — AP

June 22, 2018

Even as many religious organizations, from liberal to conservative, denounce the Trump administration's policy of separating immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border, some major advocacy groups that depict themselves as "pro-family" declined to join in the criticism.

Two of the most influential anti-abortion groups in the U.S. — the National Right to Life Committee and the Susan B. Anthony List — say their focus on abortion is so intense that they avoid wading into other issues. — AP

A senior Trump administration official says about 500 of the more than 2,000 children separated from their families at the border have been reunited since May.

The official says those children had been separated from their parents as a result of a "zero tolerance" policy that calls for the criminal prosecution of anyone caught crossing the U.S. border illegally. The official was not authorized to give out the number and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The official says many of the children were reunited within days after being separated from their families. The official wasn't certain how many of the reunited children remained in custody with their families or how many were no longer in the country.

The official says U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Health and Human Services are working to set up a centralized reunification process at the Port Isabel Detention Center near Los Fresnos, Texas. — AP

Philstar
Facebook
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with