Al Otro Lado Profile picture
May 30, 2018 14 tweets 4 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Want to know #WhereAreTheChildren ? Here’s what happens when a family seeks asylum at the US border (Thread)
First, it’s important to know that it’s LEGAL to seek asylum at a Port of Entry. CBP is obligated to accept refugee families, but we’ve recorded hundreds of instances of unlawful turn-aways. Families lucky enough to be processed face a horrific system designed to tear them apart
If minor children are traveling with both parents, Dad is almost always detained separately. That means his asylum case proceeds apart from that of his family. We’ve seen many cases of dads deported while his wife and kids remain in the US #EndFamilySeparation
Mom and minor children go into CBP’s freezing ‘hieleras’ for 3-7 days. It’s a horrific place where they have no access to an attorney, are fed terrible food, and often face abuse.…
If Mom and kids are lucky, they’ll be released from the hieleras (paroled) to a sponsor in the US. Sometimes the moms have to wear electronic monitoring bracelets which is demeaning, but by far the better option when compared to detention
More often, mom (or single dad) and kids are sent to one of three privately-run family detention centers (AKA baby jail). Follow the amazing @aldea_pjc for more information about the horrific conditions they endure in these for-profit prisons #EndFamilyDetention #ShutDownBerks
Hundreds of parents have their children taken from them. This can happen in the CBP ‘hieleras,’ at hotels where ICE agents sometimes stay with families during transport, or after the family has been transferred to a detention center. Once separated, kids go into ORR custody
ORR can place children in a group home or in short-term foster care. Conditions are generally good but vary depending on the subcontractor. ORR will then try and find a sponsor for the kid in the US, with a preference for close family members
ORR also has ‘secure’ facilities, which are like juvenile hall (and the conditions are NOT GOOD). The decision as to which kids go there is often opaque and difficult to challenge
ORR screens potential sponsors and releases most kids within a few weeks. Once the kid is released, ORR rarely follows up. Kids without sponsors are transferred to long-term foster care where they are assigned an attorney and begin to fight their deportation
Keep in mind that throughout this process, the parent is in ICE detention. I’ve had cases where ICE refused to coordinate communication between parent and child, even when ORR repeatedly reached out to ICE. Parents often have no idea where their children are unless they have help
The parent and child’s asylum cases proceed independently, which means that the parent can be deported while the child is allowed to stay. We’ve already seen numerous examples of this and it’s a monumental task to reunite the family once it happens
If families enter the US outside of a port of entry, Session’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy means that parents are prosecuted for illegal entry and kids are send directly to ORR custody - even if the family approached border patrol to ask for asylum
Most parents prosecuted for illegal entry plead to time served, then are transferred to ICE while their kids remain in ORR custody or are released to a sponsor #EndFamilySeparation

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More from @AlOtroLado_Org

Jun 13, 2018
Today, we met a man who ICE separated from his 5 yr old daughter. We offered to represent him for free but he couldn’t stand being detained and signed his own deportation. Instead of helping him fight for bond, he asked us to help make sure his 5 yr old would be deported with him
He said he never had been in prison, and didn’t expect to end up in such a terrible place when he asked for help at the border. He hasn’t spoken to his daughter since they were separated a month ago. He said he felt too depressed in detention to keep fighting his case
He is afraid to go back to his country, but said he would rather search for another safe place than suffer another day in detention. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be able to see his daughter soon, or that we’ll be able to make sure they’re deported together
Read 7 tweets
May 28, 2018
Wanted to address the @jduffyrice thread on the dangers of conflating #WhereAreTheChildren with #EndFamilySeparation. She makes some good points, but #WhereAretheChildren is absolutely a question we should be asking - for slightly different reasons
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) houses immigrant children because it ostensibly can protect their best interests better than ICE - which it often can’t because ICE’s interests dictate many of its policies. It should be a child welfare agency, not a jailer
Unaccompanied children (UCs) need continued support post-release, and in representing hundreds of UCs, I’ve seen dozens suffer abuse at the hands of their sponsors, even their own families. Because state child welfare agencies often won’t help older teens, they are on their own
Read 11 tweets
May 26, 2018
Do you want to help #EndFamilySeparation on the California border? Here are a few concrete ways you can help!
1/ Come to Tijuana and meet with families who are about to present themselves to seek asylum. Accompany them to the port of entry, then track them through the ICE detention system. We can see if they’ve been separated and mobilize legal, political, and popular support immediately
2/ If you are an attorney, volunteer to represent one of these families pro bono. Without an attorney, separated parents can go for months without knowing where their children are, and can be deported while their kids remain in government custody
Read 7 tweets

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