Posted on September 14, 2018

Separated Migrant Families to Get Second Chance at Asylum

Alan Gomez, USA Today, September 14, 2018

As many as 1,000 migrant families separated by the Trump administration under its “zero tolerance” immigration enforcement policy will get a second chance to apply for asylum under an agreement brokered between the Department of Justice and lawyers representing those families.

The agreement, submitted in federal court late Wednesday, will halt deportation proceedings to give another opportunity to parents who failed the first stage of the asylum application process, where they must demonstrate they have a “credible fear” of returning to their home country.


{snip} Under the agreement, federal immigration officials will be required to consider the “psychological state of the parent at the time of the initial interview.”

{snip} Under the agreement, the government must allow a lawyer to represent the parents during their second interview, either in person or on the phone.

If either the parent or child passes the initial credible fear interview, families will be allowed to continue the asylum process together. In cases where the parent is turned down, they will be allowed to remain in the U.S. until the conclusion of their child’s asylum case.

The agreement provides a small window for the roughly 400 parents who have already been deported to return to the U.S. to make new asylum claims. But those cases will be “rare and unusual” and will require case-by-case reviews by the federal judge overseeing the case.


The agreement does, however, allow all deported parents to testify on behalf of their children in the U.S. by phone and provide documents from their home countries to prove the hardships the child would face.

The plan, which was filed by lawyers on both sides late Wednesday, must be approved by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, who ordered the administration to reunite all separated families and continues overseeing the reunification process. {snip}


Of the 2,654 children who were separated, 2,181 no longer are in government custody, either reunited with their parents or placed with other sponsors. Another 57 remain in custody because the government alleges they were not separated from their parents. That leaves the 416 whose parents are either deported, in jail on separate criminal charges or facing further scrutiny because the government is concerned they may pose a danger to the child.