Separated parents too grief-stricken over kids to pass asylum hearings

Detained migrant parents who have been separated from their children are so grief-stricken that they cannot make it through their own asylum hearings, according to an immigration lawyer working with the parents.
By Rick Docksai | Nov 16, 2018
Immigration lawyer Jodi Goodwin has spent the past month helping separated migrant parents with their asylum cases. She said that it's especially difficult, because the parents are so grief-stricken over their children that they cannot focus on their own court cases.

"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."

She described spending time embracing her clients and trying to console them. All the while, they simply replay the moment the Border Patrol officers took their children from them, worry about their children's well-being, and ask repeatedly where their sons or daughters are, she said, adding that some simply sit and weep. Goodwin said that more than half of the roughly 20 parents she met with Thursday failed their "credible fear" interviews, in which they explain to an asylum officer why they are need asylum, because they were too distraught over their missing children to concentrate on their officers' questions.

President Trump signed an executive order in June ending his administration's policy of separating detained migrant children and parents. But his administration has not reunited the families it has already detained. The parents have not seen or, in some cases, even spoken to their children in more than a month, according to Goodwin.

Those parents who have been able to speak by phone with their children are often even more heartbroken, she added, explaining that the children describe "horrific" experiences at their own detention centers. She recalls children saying they were held in freezing-cold facilities for days on end, and officers telling them that their parents were dead or did not want them anymore.

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