February 2, 2023

Detained immigrants just revealed the awful ultimatum Trump is offering them to get their kids back

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Despite orders from a federal district court judge to give every asylum seeking migrant a hearing on their claim, the Trump administration has instructed its agents to tell undocumented immigrants that they have only two choices – be reunited with your children and leave the U.S. or just leave.


The new instructions to agents, which were obtained by NBC News, do not allow parents who were separated from their children under Trump and Attorney general Jeff Sessions’ “zero tolerance” policy to reunite their family unless they agree to leave the U.S.

They will then be immediately deported to their the home country – a place they had likely escaped with great difficulty for fear of their lives and those of their children.  

Even migrants who have already gotten through their initial screening and made valid asylum claims that they have a real reason to have left their home behind are being given the same form with the same two unpalatable choices. 

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“We are seeing cases where people who have passed credible far interviews and have pending asylum claims are being given this form,” Lee Gelernt, an ACLU lawyer who is leading the class action suit to help the migrants, told NBC News.

“Asylum law dictates that immigrants should be allowed to make an asylum claim before a judge,” continues NBC, “even if they have been given an order of deportation.”

“Immigration rights advocates say forcing parents to choose immediately between leaving the country with or without their children means they are effectively prevented from asking for asylum”

“A child should never be held hostage to force a parent to relinquish their legal right to seek asylum,” said Wendy Young, president of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND).

As recently as yesterday,  U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D..C. ordered the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to enforce its own legal procedures by granting the right to seek asylum to any migrant and then giving them “humanitarian parole” – release in the U.S. – until their case is heard by a judge.

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“This Opinion does no more than holding the Government accountable to its own policy, which recently has been honored more in the breach than the observance,” wrote Boasberg in a 38-page decision.

“Having extended the safeguards of the Parole Directive to asylum seekers,” continued the judge, “ICE must now ensure that such protections are realized.”

Yet the form being pushed on migrants being held in detention, who have been painfully separated from their children, does not include this basic legal right. 

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Instead, it follows the policy outlined by Sessions to deny asylum to anyone for any reason, which is part of the Trump “zero tolerance” policy.

It is amazing how a president, attorney general and immigration service which all constantly point out that they are only doing their legal job ignores federal court rulings and longtime legal precedent, let alone the American tradition of being open to immigrants coming from places where conditions are intolerable.

Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.

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