The updated numbers from the court filing this week come as recent reports have indicated that a number of deported parents who have been located and reunited with their children in the U.S. have been struggling financially, including with homelessness. While CNN reported that “immigrant advocacy groups have urged the administration to move faster to reunite families,” a Biden administration said in the report that officials chose a slower start, claiming that “[w]e need to make sure that families have a place to go when they get here.”
But BuzzFeed News reported earlier this month that at least a third of recently reunited families have struggled with homelessness after reentering the U.S.
Some of this appears to be tied to work permit delays. “Attorneys and advocates said the work permit process has been accelerated for this group of parents, but it could still be months before they get it and can start looking for jobs,” the report continued. “In the meantime, these families have to figure out how to provide for themselves, said Carol Anne Donohoe, managing attorney for the legal aid organization Al Otro Lado’s Family Reunification Project.”
Lisy, one mom recently reunited with her boys after four years of separation, is in this situation. “I’m very grateful for being allowed into the country and being reunited with my sons,” she told BuzzFeed News. “But as much as it pains me to ask, I need help.” Donohoe told BuzzFeed News “[t]he public sees these parents and children hugging at the airport on the news and have no idea what comes after that.”
We do know what’s come next for the former administration officials and lawyers who helped carry out this inhumane policy: “prestigious roles in the legal profession as if nothing happened,” RAICES’ Erika Andiola and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights President Kerry Kennedy wrote for Slate.
In one example from Andiola and Kennedy, the Justice Department Office of Inspector General in a report this past January called former deputy Rod Rosenstein “a driving force” in the previous administration’s decision to carry out the state-sanctioned kidnapping of thousands of children at the border. But today “Rosenstein a partner at King & Spalding and was named a member of the extremely exclusive and influential American Law Institute,” Andiola and Kennedy continue. (Read their full piece here.)
”The Biden administration should conduct a thorough investigation into family separation and identify all those responsible for devising and carrying out the policy,” Andiola and Kennedy say. The president himself called the separations “criminal” during the 2020 debates. “At a minimum, lawyers who designed the policy and supervised its implementation should be named and explicitly barred from judgeships and leadership roles in the Justice Department, including in U.S. attorneys’ offices. Private firms and professional associations should be publicly discouraged from elevating these attorneys.”