Las Vegas Sun

April 19, 2019

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Father reunited with 5-year-old after separation at border

A father and his 5-year-old daughter have been reunited after being separated under President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance policy for immigrants suspected of crossing the border illegally.

The father’s immigration lawyer, Laura Barrera, located the family Thursday after originally being directed to the wrong detention center.

The father and his daughter were separated for about three months before being reunited. He was held at the Henderson Detention Center before being sent to Texas.

“They are in good spirits,” Barrera said in a statement today. “His daughter is adorable. She was wearing a lacy, pink skirt and sunglasses that someone had given her and kept trying to talk to her dad while I was talking to him. She was obviously very happy to have him back.”

The two fled Central America’s violent Northern Triangle, which consists of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, Barrera said, without identifying their home country for safety reasons.

The father, however, is stressed because ICE still has his IDs and didn’t explain to him what his next steps are, Barrera said.

He was one of two confirmed cases of immigrant parents being held in detention centers in Nevada, according to Michael Kagan, the director of the UNLV Immigration Clinic.

The Department of Homeland Security has not responded to repeated inquiries about Nevada’s role in housing detainees under the zero-tolerance policy enforcement.

The government just hit another court-ordered deadline to reunify families impacted by the Trump policy. Court documents show that the government has reunited more than 1,800 children with either parents or sponsors.

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project and lead attorney in a lawsuit fighting the policy, said Thursday that the government was reunifying children where possible, but that didn’t include parents who had already been deported.

The ACLU wants more information on the families that have been reunified, saying in a court filing that “this information is critical both to ensure that these reunifications have in fact taken place, and to enable class counsel to arrange for legal and other services for the reunited families.”

The government said in a court document that the two sides should meet to identify “what, if any, information” on reunified families should be provided.

“These parents and children have lost valuable time together that can never be replaced,” Gelernt said in a statement Thursday. “We’re thrilled for the families who are finally reunited, but many more remain separated. The Trump administration is trying to sweep them under the rug by unilaterally picking and choosing who is eligible for reunification. We will continue to hold the government accountable and get these families back together.”