The Trump administration previously enacted a “zero-tolerance policy,” which prosecuted every adult individual who enters the country by crossing the border illegally. Because of this, children were subsequently separated from their families, as U.S. law has prohibited the prosecution of children at the border. This tactic has left hundreds of helpless children left to fend for themselves in a foreign country that had previously been the focus of all their hopes and dreams.
While in custody of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), many bewildered immigrant parents were presented with a conglomeration of documents which they were told to sign. According to a complaint filed against the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, these parents were coerced into signing these documents while being taunted, verbally and emotionally abused by detainment officials. Many parents were unable to comprehend the documents, as they were presented to the parents in English, not Spanish.
Many of these forms described the unfortunate and unethical nature of how the parents were to be separated from their children. According to the complaint, in a few instances, parents “voluntarily” waived their rights to be reunited with their children. These waivers were, again, printed in English, so non-English speaking immigrants were unable to understand what they were being coerced into signing.
According to the Associated Press, the complaint, which had been filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council, had stated that attorneys spoke with 76 immigrant parents who explained that they were asked to sign forms affecting their rights to be reunified with their children. If asked what would happen if they signed the forms, ICE officials declined to inform them of the harsh reality of being separated from their children for weeks, months, or even years.
The separation of families at the border is just one example of how immigration policy has changed in recent years. If you or a loved one is a non-citizen and are concerned about immigration issues that you may be facing, it is imperative that you consult an experienced New York immigration lawyer who can advise you of your legal rights and potentially help you find available pathways to legal residency and citizenship. The New York immigration lawyers at Bretz & Coven, LLP have years of experience representing clients in complex immigration cases. With two immigration law offices located in New York City and Clark, New Jersey, the firm’s attorneys are available to assist individuals throughout the tri-state area with their immigration matters. For more information or to schedule a consultation with our New York City immigration lawyers, call (212) 267-2555 or fill out our contact form.