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With deadline looming, it's unclear how many migrant kids will be reunited with parents


At least three parents in Michigan are hoping to be reunited with their young children today, after being separated at the southern U.S. border.

Abril Valdes is the immigrant rights attorney for the ACLU of Michigan. She represents two dads from Honduras that were being held at the Calhoun County jail in Battle Creek, and says she knows of a third father at the same facility.

Valdes says both her clients have been separated from their three-year-old sons for about three months. And with a court-imposed deadline approaching, it’s still not clear how or whether they'll be reunited.

“The government has used all of its resources to separate these families – you know, time, energy – and they’re just not putting [in] the same effort in order to comply with this judge’s order," said Valdes.

Valdes says one of the dads she represents was sleeping with his son on the floor of a detention center in Texas when he was told he needed to leave the cell (and his child) to "be processed." He was not allowed to return to that cell, so left his child sleeping there. He was not allowed to see his son, just knew that his child would be sent "to another state."

Valdes says the three men were released this morning and taken to Grand Rapids. Their kids have been placed with Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids. In a conference call Tuesday, Bethany said "100 percent" of children under five years old in their care will have been reunited with families by the end of the day.
A federal judge last month gave the federal government until Tuesday to reunite migrant parents with kids under five. Valdes says she expects about half of those 102 children will be reunited with their parents by today.

"The trauma that they have inflicted on these little people will be permanent," Valdes said, "and it’s inhumane.”

A request for comment from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was not immediately returned.

This post was updated on Tuesday, July 9 at 10:30 a.m.

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Public's Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.
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