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Deported parents could face barriers when reuniting with their children

In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a U.S. Border Patrol agent watches as people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, stand in line at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP)

PHOENIX — For deported parents who are separated from their children at the border, reuniting may be difficult.

Phoenix immigration attorney Margarita Silva said there are a number of barriers parents face when they’re deported and are trying to find their children.

One barrier is that children’s information is not public record and a toll-free number parents are given to locate their kids doesn’t always work.

“Because it’s children, the information is confidential,” Silva said. “So what we see, of course, is a lot of times parents in the home country don’t know who to call or don’t know how to contact their children. There are scores of facilities all across the country where their children can be.”

Parents are being separated from their children at the border due to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy to criminally prosecute any adult who enters the country illegally. Any child who is with the adult is put into the custody of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, since children cannot be held in an adult facility.

About 2,000 children have been separated from their parents as a result of the new policy.

Silva said deported parents who are trying to reconnect with their children could get in touch with an attorney or non-profit group helping their children with their immigration case. But she said that’s difficult to do since many children don’t have anyone representing them in court.

Another option is to work with the consulate office from their home country, Silva said. The problem with consulate offices, however, is they may not have the resources to help the parents or they may not have an office in the same state as the children.

Silva said if the children are ordered to be deported, the U.S. government will likely work with the child service department from the children’s home country to reunite them with their families. But if the children are granted asylum or another type of protection allowing them to stay in the U.S., it would be difficult for deported parents to get their children back.

“As a result, a long separation may occur,” Silva said.

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