So far, there have been more than 2,000 immigrant children taken from their parents when they crossed the United States-Mexico border due to the new “zero tolerance” policy set forth by the Trump administration. Texas lawyers are now stepping up to help those parents find their children.
Priscilla Mendoza and her colleague Alexis Bay, law clerks with the Texas Civil Rights Project, are spending their summer in Rio Grande Valley along with other attorneys to try and track down children who were separated from their parents.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a Senate Finance hearing on Tuesday, “There is no reason why any parent would not know where their child is located.”
Mark Weber, HHS spokesman, said on Monday that the agency is fully aware of where all the separated children and parents are located.
“I will emphasize, we know where their parents are, we have connected with their parents in almost every case,” Weber said, speaking at the compound where the government is keeping some of the children who were separated from their parents. He said they are aggressively looking and if a parent has a hard time finding the child, “we are going to find them.”
Attorneys say that this is not the case. If it is, the information about where the children are located is not being shared with them. The attorneys are calling this “a race against the clock” because in some cases, attorneys and advocates make checks only to find that the parent is no longer with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the children are no longer with the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
They have 381 cases of parents or guardians separated from their children.
Mothers and fathers separated from children “weren’t even given a basic piece of paper — there is no claim ticket,” said a lawyer helping to find kids.
According to the Gartner Group, about 15% of all paper documents are misplaced and 7.5% are lost completely. Is the information on the children misplaced, lost, or does it even exist?
The group of attorneys and advocates finally got confirmation that one child is in federal care; a small victory, but one none the less.
“We are trying to find information on any kid,” Mendoza told NBC News. “This is the first time (in a while) they were able to give me some kind of information.”