We’ve heard all about how children have been separated from their families after they’ve been apprehended crossing into the United States illegally. But could being reunited be so easy as agreeing to deportation? One illegal immigrant says yes.
According to a report in The Texas Tribune, an asylum-seeker from Honduras claims he was told by authorities that he could be reunited with his child immediately if he only agreed to a voluntary deportation order.
“Central American men separated from their children and held in a detention facility outside Houston are being told they can reunite with their kids at the airport if they agree to sign a voluntary deportation order now, according to one migrant at the facility and two immigration attorneys who have spoken to detainees there,” the paper reported Sunday.
“A Honduran man who spoke to The Texas Tribune Saturday estimated that 20 to 25 men who have been separated from their children are being housed at the IAH Polk County Secure Adult Detention Center, a privately operated U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility for men located 75 miles outside Houston.
“He said the majority of those detainees had received the same offer of reunification in exchange for voluntary deportation.
“The 24-year-old detainee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and requested the Tribune use the pseudonym Carlos because he feared retaliation, told the Tribune that he abandoned his asylum case and agreed to sign voluntary deportation paperwork Friday out of ‘desperation’ to see his 6-year-old daughter, who was separated from him after the pair illegally crossed the border in late May,” the article reported.
“The man said two federal officials suggested he’d be reunited with his daughter at the airport if he agreed to sign the order, which could lead to him being repatriated to his violence-torn home country in less than two weeks.”
It’s worth noting that there are several things about the story that make it questionable. First, there’s no confirmation from other detainees, even though the man identified as “Carlos” said “the majority” of individuals at the center had been given the same offer.
Also, while a fact sheet from the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services cited in the report states that “a parent who is ordered removed from the U.S. may request that his or her minor child accompany them,” a number of reports have indicated this isn’t the case for individuals apprehended trying to enter the United States.
A June 17 report from The New York Times noted that children cannot accept expedited removal from the United States because they are still minors. Most voluntary removals, at least in cases like these, would usually fall under the umbrella of an expedited removal — one where the adult agrees to be deported in exchange for time served.
“But children cannot be subject to expedited removal; they are automatically entitled to a full hearing before an immigration judge, and their cases take longer to resolve,” The Times noted.
The Times piece was written before President Trump’s executive order on separating families of illegal immigrants, which stipulated that, “The Attorney General shall, to the extent practicable, prioritize the adjudication of cases involving detained families.”
Regardless of the details, there is an interesting vein running through this story: If being reunited with your child is as simple as agreeing to deportation, then what’s the commotion about?
After all, the Texas Tribune may not exactly have all the particulars of the story nailed down — including anyone willing to confirm the story or why authorities would be able to expedite the hearings of these children — but the tone isn’t one of outrage that the father wouldn’t choose this path, or that he risked his child’s life by paying $7,000 to human traffickers because he “he feared being caught up in the violence waged by organized crime syndicates and gangs in the country.” (A fear which officials clearly didn’t find credible.)
No, there’s nothing like that. The story in the Tribune, an alternative newspaper published by a nonprofit organization and available only in digital form, comes across as outraged that these illegal immigrants would even be offered this deal.
If the Trump administration could make this happen — that the cases of illegal immigrant minors could be tied to that of their parent or guardian and they could be reunited upon agreeing to voluntary deportation — that seems to be the real outrage to these reporters.
Yet, as the story makes clear, officials found that there was no way the illegal immigrants or the authorities could establish credible fear. The man and his daughter entered the country illegally. Voluntary deportation would likely be the best outcome for the family in this situation. The Tribune’s evident disapproval of this solution in this case proves, in microcosm, part of the real agenda behind the alleged outrage over familial separation:
The delegitimization of the idea that the United States government, on behalf of the American people, decides who can and cannot legally be in this country.
For the government’s part, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Carl Rusnok said his agency “cannot research vague allegations.”
“It is unprofessional and unfair for a media outlet to publish such allegations without providing names, dates and locations so that these allegations can be properly researched,” Rusnok told the Tribune.
As we’ve said, this story has questionable aspects. However, the sad thing is that if it were true, nobody on the left would be any less outraged over the “separation crisis” than they are now.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.