By Sandra G. Leon
The US government can not locate the families of 545 children separated from their parents under the Trump Administration border policy that has held thousands of kids during the past three years.
A new report by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found that 545 children are still separated from their families because no one can track down the parents to determine what to do with the minors.
The US is currently running radio commercials in Mexico and throughout Central America in hopes of locating the parents. Court-appointed staff are working in Guatemala and Honduras to search for parents through public records and birth certificates.
Many of the parents were deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) before immigration officials could document the relationships with children held in detention centers run by HHS.
Now, up to three years later, many of the parents have returned to their native countries and either moved to other cities or were left homeless and in refugee camps that are unsafe. Thousands of refugees have reported being assaulted, raped, and extorted for money while staying in camps either awaiting asylum hearings in the US or after being deported back to their country.
Thousands of children were separated from their parents under a zero-tolerance policy started by Trump in 2017. Parents were processed and held by ICE while minors were held in detention centers controlled by HHS and run by private companies. Immigration and child advocates complained of the treatment of the minors after many were found to be held in overcrowded facilities, with some children sleeping on concrete floors.
Although hundred of minors were eventually reunited with parents or immediate family members, some families have still not been located. HHS has not said what will happen to minors who cannot be successfully reunited with relatives. These children are not US Citizens.