A New ICE Policy Offers Immigrants Separated from Their Kids a Cruel Choice: Report
As thousands of immigrant kids struggle with the consequences of the Trump administration's decision to separate them from their families, a new report Tuesday revealed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has started issuing parents forms that require them to make a stark choice.
The forms, as first reported by NBC News, ask parents to agree to either reunite with their children in exchange for agreeing to return to their home countries, or to agree to leave the United States without their child at all.
"We are seeing cases where people who have passed credible fear interviews and have pending asylum claims are being given this form," lawyer Lee Gelernt, who works for the American Civil Liberties Union, told NBC.
The credible fear interview is the first hurdle people seeking asylum must pass for the government to fully consider their case. If they can demonstrate that they have reason to believe they face significant danger in their home country, they are allowed to continue with the asylum application.
Applying for asylum is a protected right under both international and U.S. law.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order supposedly stopping the family separations after a nationwide backlash induced him to back away from the policy. But it's far from clear what effect the order actually had on enforcement, and the administration has begun stonewalling on basic questions about the situation.
But these forms are apparently being used to scare parents who have been separated from their kids into agreeing to leave the country, even when they have the legal right to pursue asylum claims.
Wendy Young, president of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), compared the situation to holding kids "hostage to force a parent to relinquish their legal right to seek asylum," in a statement to NBC.