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New U.S. asylum rules divide families across border

Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on July 11, 2019 - Duration: 02:15s

New U.S. asylum rules divide families across border

As a new Trump administration policy on Central America asylum-seekers rapidly expands, family separations are increasingly complicated by a formidable barrier: an international border.

Yahaira Jacquez reports.

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New U.S. asylum rules divide families across border

It's been over a year since a judge blocked a Trump administration policy that separated children from their parents seeking asylum on the U.S.-Mexico Border.

The change came after after images like these - of children in cages - sparked outrage at home and abroad.

But U.S. officials still separate some families that cross the border if there's an issue with documentation or if they believe the children are at risk.

They also routinely separate children from other relatives, such as siblings or aunts and uncles.

This approach was also followed during the Obama Administration, in an effort to prevent child trafficking.

But there's a new element to this: The Trump administration's recent policy that sends some migrants back across the border to Mexico to await their legal claims and sometimes without their kids, putting an international border between them.

Reuters' Kristina Cooke spoke with migrant families, attorneys and advocates about the problem: (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT KRISTINA COOKE, saying: "There are a number of issues that arise if you send the caregiver back to Mexico and the child is sent to a shelter in the U.S. Often that caregiver may have details about the location of a potential sponsor for the child or they may have details about the child's asylum case that the child may not be able to communicate themselves.

And if the caregiver is in Mexico they may also not have a fixed address and be more difficult to contact." Reuters spoke with one migrant dad from Guatemala who was separated from his 14-year-old son after a border patrol agent deemed the boy's photocopied birth certificate to be fake.

Despite his protests, Gerardo - who asked us not to use his last name - said officers took his son Walter away while he was returned to Mexico.

According to migrant families and their attorneys, it can take weeks before parents or caregivers find out where the child is.

Sometimes longer.

Gerardo was helped by lawyers and a government official.

Last week, the father and son saw each other for the first time in three months.

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