Saturday, May 25, 2024

Separated parents will be able to reunite with their children after signing voluntary deportation

As focus intensifies on reuniting immigrant families separated by the government, parents are being offered another option: sign voluntary departure orders to speed up their cases — and they’ll be reunited with their kids before they are deported if they do.

While the option is not unique to parents and is not the only option, it is raising eyebrows among those who represent undocumented immigrants, who question as to whether it’s understood properly by the parents being offered it. An administration official confirmed the arrangement to CNN, saying that as is customary, immigrants in detention are being offered the chance to sign the orders to be removed from the country more quickly than if they waited for a judge.

The undocumented immigrants are given the choice whether to be deported with or without their kids, whose deportation cases will likely move at a much slower pace given the different legal protections for children and the government’s decision to place the children in separate facilities and proceedings.

On Saturday night, the Trump administration put out the release about reunification following the family separations resulting from the “zero-tolerance” policy amid an outcry about the separations and questions about reunification. The release said the Department of Health and Human Services still had 2,053 children in custody not reunited with parents, and the administration plan said reunifications would only take place once the parents’ deportation proceedings were finished.

Under the law, immigrants are allowed to have legal representation, although the government does not provide any as they navigate the US immigration system and seek to reunify with their children after the government separated them. The families will either be reunited before deportation, or, if the parent is released from detention, after the parent applies to serve as the child’s sponsor under HHS rules.

Efrén Olivares, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, said in a call with reporters Sunday that the matter seemed to conflate two separate points; “Putting them in that position is not a voluntary (deportation); it’s being obtained under duress.”