Las Vegas Sun

March 24, 2019

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Heller: Nevada held detainees under zero-tolerance policy

Steve Marcus

Estella Perkins, left, and her twin sister Sophia, hold up signs during a “Families Belong Together” demonstration by the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in downtown Las Vegas Saturday, June 30, 2018. Organizers say more than 700 similar events were held around the country.

Updated Thursday, July 26, 2018 | 11:32 a.m.

Nevada has held detainees under President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance policy for prosecuting immigrants captured while crossing the border illegally, according to GOP Sen. Dean Heller.

Heller said on the Senate floor today that he’d heard concerns from more than 3,500 constituents over the family separations. Thousands of children, some still in diapers, have been separated from their family members as a result of the Trump policy.

“My constituents have spoken to families split apart at the borders and some are being held in Southern Nevada,” he said. “And they are, frankly, asking for help. So being reunified with their children is their top priority.”

It’s unclear where or how many immigrants may have been held in Nevada due to the Trump administration policy. Court decisions have sought to reunify the thousands of children who have been separated from their parents, hundreds of whom have already been deported.

There have been two confirmed cases of separated parents who were held in Nevada, said Michael Kagan, director of UNLV Immigration Clinic. A father was transferred to Texas, he said.

Lawyer Laura Barrera, who represents the father, said he was separated from his 5-year-old daughter for about three months.

The father was detained in the Henderson Detention Center when he was in Nevada, said Barrera said, who was told he was taken to Karnes County Residential Center in Texas. She later found out that her client was not there. The father and his daughter fled from Central America's violent Northern Triangle, a region consisting of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, Barrera said.

Messages to the Department of Homeland Security seeking more details weren’t immediately returned.