545 Children Still Missing

By Jasmine Muang

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People gather outside the Massachusetts State House in Boston to protest the Seperation of Children under the Trump administration on June 14, 2018.(wbur news)

Recently, 545 children were separated from their parents at the border, but now the parents are nowhere to be found. The New York Times states that a campaign is using their hard work to try and track down the parents that were separated in 2017, under Trump’s administration. About 60 of the children were under the age of 5 when they were separated from their parents. Attempts to find the parents have been going on for a while, but it seems unsuccessful, as the amount of unreachable parents have increased.

The Trump Administration provided their first court-ordered accounting of separated families in 2018.  2,700 children had been taken from their parents at that time. After a while of searching, most of those families were reunited later on. In the beginning of 2019, the Health and Human Services Department’s office confirmed that even more children have been separated at the time.

Researchers predict that about two-thirds of separated families are back in their home country. Although most families did not choose to be separated, some parents agreed that their children would be safer in the United States. The Trump Administration argued that this was a valid reason not to search for the missing parents. According to The New York Times, Mr. Jennings says, “After contact has been made with the parents to reunite them with their children, many parents refused.” Though most families chose to be separated, all the others were never given a choice and were forcefully separated.

Efforts to save separated families have been going on since 2018. This is due to how the practice of separating families was introduced without being openly acknowledged. Even many federal agencies were not informed of this activity. Also, immigration authorities did not keep records of where the children’s parents were. They delete a lot of the identification numbers that could be used to track down most of the parents. The court order to reunite separated families took at least a month because of workers from federal agencies that spent multiple nights searching for parents of separated children.

When they found out that more children were being separated, they had to repeat the search process all over again. It became more difficult by that time. According to CNN, “There are places where you practically have to climb mountains to get there. And when you arrive, they say. ‘He doesn’t live here anymore,’” says Dora Melara, Nonprofit Justice in Motion attorney. Many of the missing parents have either relocated or gone further into hiding.

Steering Committee members only have access to names and countries of origin when they try to locate separated parents. While they searched for parents, they encountered hurdles, leading many families to flee from their home. The Steering Committee also established hotlines for separated families, but due to COVID-19, most of the areas they try to search are mainly restricted. The Trump administration has been voted out of office, but the damage done to these children and their families will continue on.