Separated Parents Are Failing Asylum Screenings Because They’re So Heartbroken

Separated Parents Are Failing Asylum Screenings Because They’re So Heartbroken


Originally published by The Huffington Post

Jodi Goodwin has spent the past month helping grief-stricken parents with their asylum cases.

On most days, the Harlingen, Texas-based immigration lawyer drives to the Port Isabel Detention Center just outside of Brownsville to meet with clients who were separated from their children. But, she says, those mothers and fathers are too devastated to prepare for their court hearings.

Instead, they replay the moment their kids were taken away by Border Patrol, worry about their children’s well-being, and ask repeatedly where their sons and daughters are. In some cases, they simply weep.

“They are losing it,” Goodwin said. “They are red-faced and have bloodshot eyes and all they do is cry. We are trying to ask them basic information but they are whimpering and they can’t talk.

“We are having to hug them and hold them tight to try and give them some kind of comfort,” she continued, starting to cry over the phone. “It’s ridiculous.”

President Donald Trump issued an executive order in June to end his own administration’s policy of separating families at the border. But there are still over 2,000 detained parents who haven’t seen, and in some cases spoken to, their children in over a month. And while a federal judge in San Diego ruled last week that the government must bring families back together within 30 days, lawyers told HuffPost they are not aware of any plan to reunite children with parents who decide to seek asylum in the U.S., a process that can take a few months.

In the meantime, they say, separated parents are too consumed with heartache to focus on their immigration cases. That puts them at a much higher risk of being deported back to countries where their lives are in danger.

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