The Latest: Agency ex-director: Reunification will be tough
MCALLEN, Texas (AP) — The Latest on immigrants parents and children separated at the U.S. border (all times local):
A former director of the agency sheltering immigrant children taken from their parents says the U.S. government could face many challenges trying to comply with a federal judge’s order to quickly reunify families.
Robert Carey led the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement during the Obama administration.
The order issued late Wednesday requires parents to be reunited with children 5 and older within 30 days, and with children under 5 in 14 days.
The agency is currently taking an average of 57 days to place children in its care with adult sponsors.
Carey says the agency will likely struggle to link children with their parents, especially if the parents are still detained or have already been deported. He said he can’t recall a case where the agency placed a child with a parent or relative who was in detention.
A Honduran teen is describing being beaten and deprived of food inside a youth immigration detention center in the mountains of Virginia.
The young immigrant says he was strip searched and placed in solitary confinement after arriving at age 16 to Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center in the summer of 2016.
Now 18 and living in California, the teen spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he feared the government might retaliate against him for speaking out.
His firsthand account echoes abuse claims by other children included in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the facility.
Shenandoah’s executive director has said that an internal investigation concluded that the incidents the lawsuit describes were unfounded. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered two state agencies to investigate the facility.
— By Garance Burke
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that allows immigrant parents to designate a “standby guardian” for their children if the parent is detained in New York or faces deportation.
The Democrat signed the legislation at a community college in the Bronx on Wednesday, a day after a federal judge ordered immigrant families separated at the border to be reunited.
The measure passed by the state Legislature last week changes wording in a law that allows a parent to designate a guardian should the parent become incapacitated.
The new law allows a standby guardian’s authority to immediately begin when a child is separated from a parent.
Cuomo says the law is designed to offer increased protections for children separated from their parents as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy.
A New York judge says the government acted unlawfully by requiring some immigrant children to be kept detained until an agency’s director approved their release.
Judge Paul Crotty in Manhattan said in a written ruling Wednesday he “cannot turn a blind eye” to suffering and irreparable injury caused by the policy by the Office Of Refugee Resettlement.
Crotty also granted class-action status to the legal action brought by civil rights lawyers on behalf of one child.
A spokesman for government lawyers said there was no immediate comment.
Crotty heard arguments by lawyers earlier this month. Lawyers for the New York Civil Liberties Union argued that new rules led to average detention times of over eight months.
The rule pertains to children who have spent time in more restrictive custodial settings.
Former Kansas U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says three immigrant children who were separated from their parents at the border are still in the care of a Kansas nonprofit organization working under contract with the federal government.
Grissom said he met Wednesday with the director of The Villages Inc. along with Kansas child welfare officials and some legislators. Grissom had assembled a team of lawyers to provide legal services to the children after reports that separated immigrant children had been brought to Kansas.
The group was told 10 or fewer children detained in Kansas had been separated at the border and all but three had been reunited with their families. Those efforts continue for the remaining children.
Grissom says all the children had family contact information and other legal representation.
11: 10 a.m.
A Missouri attorney says she broke her foot after she was pushed by an immigration agent while taking a 3-year-old boy to join his mother who was being deported to Honduras.
Immigration attorney Andrea Martinez said she had arranged with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to meet its Enforcement and Removals office in Kansas City early Tuesday so the boy could be reunited with his mother, Kenia Bautista, who is 6 months pregnant.
Activists and a documentary film crew captured the incident on video which appears to show someone being shoved and falling. But it was taken from a distance and some people standing near her block a clear view of what happened.
The agency said it takes any allegations against its personnel “very seriously” and is investigating.
The 90-year-old widow of Robert F. Kennedy plans to take part in a hunger strike to protest the separation of immigrant families.
The Boston Globe reports Ethel Kennedy plans to join several dozen members of the family and other activists, who each plan to fast for 24 hours and make a donation in place of the food they would have eaten.
The organization Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is holding what it calls a “hunger strike and prayer chain” over a 24-day period to honor an estimated 2,400 children separated from parents because of President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy for immigrants who enter the U.S. illegally at the Mexican border.
Kerry Kennedy, who heads the organization, says her mother is “very joyful” about participating in the protest.
Washington state authorities say 10 protesters were arrested Tuesday night outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, where detainees from the southern border crisis are being held.
In the on-going protest, Tacoma police said 40 people started blocking the road into the prison about 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Protesters who stood in front of a Tacoma police officer’s patrol car refused to move.
That prompted a large police response with 25 officers.
One protester who jumped onto the back of an officer was arrested for assault, while the others were taken away for resisting arrest or failing to disperse.
Tacoma police said about 160 people had gathered to protest the federal government for detaining migrants — separating them from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border — while the adults await immigration processing.
The clock is ticking for the Trump administration after a federal judge ordered thousands of migrant children and parents reunited within 30 days, sooner if the youngster is under 5.
The hard deadline was set Tuesday night by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego after President Donald Trump’s order ending the separation of families at the Mexican border gave way to days of uncertainty, conflicting information and no guidance from the administration on when parents might see their children again.
The order poses a host of logistical problems for the administration, and it was unclear how it would meet the deadline.
Health and Human Services, which takes charge of the children, referred questions to the Justice Department.
The Justice Department said the ruling makes it “even more imperative that Congress finally act to give federal law enforcement the ability to simultaneously enforce the law and keep families together.”
See AP’s complete coverage of the debate over the Trump administration’s policy of family separation at the border: https://apnews.com/tag/Immigration