A total of 500 were reunited with their families and 2,053 left to go, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported Saturday night along with plans to partner with agencies in order to quickly return the remaining minors with their parents.
Despite harsh criticism from immigration attorneys and activists, the DHS assured it had a “well-coordinated” process in place to return the thousands of children separated from their guardians per the “zero tolerance” policy which until days ago was in full force along the U.S. southern border.
As very few children were separated for reasons other than the ‘zero tolerance’ policy, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has implemented a tracking mechanism which they say will work to “"every minor and parent or guardian.”
“The United States government knows the location of all children in its custody and is working to reunite them with their families,” the DHS said, emitting the estimated time frame the reunification process is expected to take from their report.
The fact sheet released by the U.S. Departments addressed those parents destined for deportation and failed to advise those families seeking asylum on reunification process.
The new details came after more than two months of confusion over how detained migrant parents, who are shuttled from facility to facility run by different government agencies, would ever reunite with their children, who are sent to shelters and foster homes scattered across the country.
Instructions advising detained parents on communicating or finding misplaced children have allegedly been posted in ICE institutions with the information of a hotline available 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
However, Sirine Shebaya, a senior staff attorney with Muslim Advocates said that though several of the migrants had been given a number to call to try to locate their children, they found their calls either wouldn’t go through or went unanswered. If they did manage to get someone on the line, they were often told they would get a callback.
Immigration attorneys also report that though, per the HHS, children are given the chance to speak with a “vetted parent, guardian or relative” within 24 hours of arriving at a facility, they often do not know their exact location.