Other’s opinion: Reunification: Government has failed children taken from parents

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, October 28, 2020

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The Free Press, Mankato

At last count, 545 children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border have not been reunited with them because the federal government lost track of the adults or won’t share their information with groups attempting to reconnect family members.

For some of those children, three years have ticked by as they were denied the connection and support of the people who, as in most families, loved them most.

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The Trump administration directed prosecutors to file criminal charges against those who crossed the border without authorization, including parents, who were then separated from their children when taken into custody, The New York Times reports. The American Civil Liberties Union is leading a court challenge to the family separation policy and told the Times the government’s secretiveness kept them from searching for the parents to help reunite them with their children.

This shameful situation of failing to reconnect the children with their mothers and fathers is on the hands of our government. It must do everything in its power to rectify the situation — and quickly.

At least 60 of the children were younger than age 5 when taken from their parents, according to court documents. Those children may no longer even remember their mothers and fathers. Children of all ages are affected by the long separations. Some will bear lifelong emotional scars.

Complicating the situation is that if the adults were returned to their unsafe home countries, they may have had to go into hiding to survive. And, of course, our government agencies were well aware of that scenario but did little to make sure the parents could stay in touch with their children.

A court previously ordered the end to the separation policy, but that doesn’t help the children who are not yet with their parents — or have absolutely no idea where they are. The government needs to provide the funding, staff and multiple-agency collaboration to fix this problem.

Policies that institute tighter controls on immigration aren’t a license for the inhumane treatment, drawn-out detention and family separation of those who flee here for a better life.

Children, who must rely on the morality of adults, are being unjustly punished.