An innocuous, one-page pamphlet with silhouettes of adults holding hands with children provides a seemingly simple step-by-step guide for parents separated from their children after crossing the border.
The information, in both Spanish and English, includes 1-800 numbers and email addresses for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's call center and the Office of Refugee Resettlement's “Parent Line.”
The "Next Steps for Families" flyer essentially instructs parents on how they may be able to locate their kids, not how to get them back. It doesn’t say how long it will be before the father or mother might see their child again.
Hoping to dissuade immigrants from attempting to cross the border from Mexico, the Trump administration recently enacted a "zero tolerance" policy, criminally prosecuting anyone caught entering the U.S. illegally.
No law or ruling mandates family separation, but the crack down has led to children being separated from their parents.
Nearly 2,000 children were torn away from their families during a six week span between April and May this year.
Trump and his top officials have attempted to blame Democrats in Congress for the situation."Democrats are the problem," Trump tweeted Tuesday. "They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13. They can’t win on their terrible policies, so they view them as potential voters!"
The President has continuously rallied behind the false claim that most people entering the U.S. illegally are gang members.
As the flyer informs recipients, the parents have been charged “with the crime of illegal entry into the United States.”
The majority of those crossing the southern border are families fleeing gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and are seeking asylum in the U.S. Under the previous administration, such families were usually referred for civil deportation proceedings, not requiring separation.
“There is complete chaos,” Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, told the Washington Post.
The ACLU is suing to force the government to promptly return children to their parents.
The organization filed a lawsuit in February on behalf of a Congolese woman whose 7-year-old daughter was taken from her after they entered the United States seeking asylum. The child was placed in foster care and the two were apart for four months.
Outrage over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” approach has exploded as images and audio recordings from the shelters where children are being held after being taken from their parents have become public.
Audio published by ProPublica on Monday exposed the emotional heart of the matter.
“I don’t want them to stop my father,” a child cries in the clip. “I don’t want them to deport him.”
The audio was recorded inside a US Customs and Border Protection detention facility, according to ProPublica.
Trump is set to meet with Republicans late Tuesday to discuss a pair of GOP-crafted immigration bills that are under consideration in the House.
The first bill is a hard-line package that backs the President's calls for curbs on legal immigration and increases spending on border security. It also denies a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
The second bill is considered a "compromise" bill that secures the fate of Dreamers, but still calls for strict restrictions on legal immigration and cracks down on asylum seekers.