We received this first-person account from one of our attorneys who is representing mothers and children separated at the border. All names (including the attorney’s) and identifying details have been omitted, not to protect the client’s privacy, but her safety.
“I don’t want anything to interfere with the client’s positive fear result,” the attorney explains, alluding to the first crucial step in the asylum process.
Today (June 6, 2018) I was at my first Credible Fear interview at [detention center] since the DOJ (Department of Justice) and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) started separating of parents & kids at border.
Asylum officer (AO): Goes through regular list of questions, including are you married, single, widowed, living with a partner etc. And then:
AO: “Do you have any children?”
AO: “How many?”
AO: “What is your child’s name?”
– Gives answer
AO: “What is your child’s birthdate?”
– Gives answer
AO: “So your child is living in [country of origin]?
AO “Then where is your child?”
– They took him
AO Who took him?
– They took him when we got here
AO: Who is “they?”
– She shrugs helplessly, but this is a phone interview. She looks at me. What is she supposed to say?
AO: “Who took your child away, and why would they do that?”
At which point I have to intervene and explain. It’s mind-boggling, but the asylum office did not know that parents are being separated from their kids at the border.
– It’s been a month since I’ve seen him.
Most of the women here do not have an attorney to represent them. They are alone and defenseless. What happens to them? What happens to their kids?
This is lunacy in the worst, cruelest way.
Separating children from loving parents is inhumane and unjust.
Those fleeing persecution and violence have a legal right to make their case heard, and Justice for Our Neighbors is here to help them.
Your tax-deductible donation allows our JFON network to offer vital, high-quality immigration legal services to these separated families. Together, we can give them a fair chance to reunite and remain in the U.S. safely, permanently, and legally.