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Joy and chaos as US reunites migrant families

Joy and chaos as US reunites migrant families


Reuters
LOS FRESNOS, Texas,
Luis Campos, a Dallas attorney, showed up at a Texas immigrant detention facility close to the US-Mexico border on Wednesday morning expecting to represent a client before an immigration judge.
But his client - a mother who had been separated from her child by immigration authorities after they crossed the border illegally - was not at the Port Isabel Detention Center. For more than a day, Campos was unable to determine whether she had been released and whether she had been reunited with her child.
Campos did not fare much better with his other appointments. Of the five other clients he had been scheduled to meet with that day, four were no longer at Port Isabel, and it was unclear if they had been released or transferred to other facilities.
"We don't know what their status is except they're no longer in the system,"Campos said."We don't know where people are right now and it's been a struggle to get information."
Lawyers and immigrant advocates working in south Texas this week reported widespread disarray as the federal government scrambled to meet a court-imposed deadline of July 26 for reunifying families separated by immigration officials under the Trump administration's"zero tolerance"measures.
Half a dozen lawyers Reuters spoke to described struggles to learn of reunification plans in advance and difficulty tracking down clients who were suddenly released or transferred to family detention centers run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The lawyers said it was often difficult to get through by telephone and that when they did the government employees often knew little about their clients'status or location.
ICE officials did not respond to questions about the reunification process in Texas and elsewhere.
A government court filing on Thursday said that 364 reunifications had taken place so far. It was unclear from the document, filed as part of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging parent-child separations at the border, exactly how many more were likely.
Of more than 2,500 parents identified as potentially eligible to be reunited with their children, 848 have been interviewed and cleared for reunification, government attorneys told the court. Another 91 have been deemed ineligible because of criminal records or for other reasons.

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