In The News

‘Scared to death’: Miami Haitians fear family separations if protected status expires - Miami Herald

July 24, 2018

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"Me estaba desangrando": perdieron a sus bebés por presunta negligencia médica en centros de inmigración - Noticiero Univisión

Vilma Tarazona

July 23, 2018

Vea la entrevista aquí.



After weeks apart, 4-year-old immigrant children in Miami-Dade reunited with parents - Miami Herald


July 10, 2018

A pair of 4-year-old children separated from their fathers at the U.S.-Mexico border and taken to a South Florida migrant shelter were returned to their parents Tuesday, a law firm representing the families told the Miami Herald.

The kids, a boy and girl from Honduras and Guatemala, were the first immigrant children in Florida to be returned to their parents following President Donald Trump’s short-lived “zero tolerance” immigration policy, said Jennifer Anzardo Valdes, the director of the Children’s Legal Program at Americans for Immigrant Justice.

"The children were successfully reunited. Families are doing great and very happy to be together," Valdes told the Herald in an email Tuesday evening.

The small children are among the more than 50 immigrant kids around the country under the age of 5 that the Trump administration said it would reunite with their parents by a Tuesday deadline imposed by California U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw last month. 

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Meet the Women Defending Migrant Children on Our Border - InStyle


July 9, 2018

When Michelle Brané visited the immigration processing center known as Ursula in McAllen, Texas, to monitor a group of migrant children being held there, she asked to see a 4-year-old girl on her list.

“I can’t find her,” an agent told her plainly.

Brané, who works with the Women's Refugee Commission to make sure facilities like Ursula are adhering to legal standards, says that the only person who could find the girl was a fellow detainee, a 16-year-old who had met the toddler three days earlier and been caring for her. “She would put this child to sleep and comfort her when she would cry. She changed this kid’s diaper,” said Brané. “No adult, no official in the facility, ever stepped in. All of this in a facility where they sleep on the floor, and the lights are on 24 hours a day.”

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Zero Tolerance - The Orlando Times

By Jalessa Castillo

Due to the threat of drug cartels, extreme poverty, gang violence, and other safety concerns, tens of thousands of parents and children have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in recent years. Recently, former policies, the Trump administration, and other factors have led to a catastrophe that is the cause of over 2,300 children being separated from their parents.

It began in 2008 when Former-President George W. Bush signed a law calling for unaccompanied minors crossing the border to be released into the “least restrictive setting.”

By 2014, then-President Barack Obama faced an influx of children and families attempting to enter the U.S. His administration housed the families in special detention centers but since the arrangement violated an agreement that barred kids from jail-like settings, they were released pending notification of their next court date.

Following Trump’s election, now White House chief of staff, John Kelly, encouraged the separation of families as a way to discourage illegal border crossings.

Trump, along with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, also insisted that people were purposefully traveling with children to ensure they weren’t jailed.

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What’s happening with detained migrant children? A patchwork system makes it hard to find out. - Tampa Bay Times

By Alex Leary and Steve Bousquet 

June 29, 2018

Florida’s key role in the national detention system wasn’t publicly known until news broke in mid-June that more than 1,000 children were housed in a dorm-like former job training center in Homestead, including at least 70 kids who were taken from their families.

No one noticed.

Five months ago, the federal government sent an advisory to Gov. Rick Scott and Florida members of Congress: It was re-opening a shelter for "unaccompanied alien children" 35 miles south of Miami.

"There is no set date for UACs to arrive at the facility," a letter read, pledging "accountability and transparency for program operations."

The Homestead shelter, run by a private Florida contractor for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has become a flash point in an uproar over President Donald Trump's immigration policy. Hundreds of migrant children sent there went unnoticed until they were joined by dozens more torn from their parents at the border in recent weeks.

The outcry over child separation has revealed a disturbing bigger picture. America's immigration enforcement system is a complex patchwork involving multiple federal agencies, local sheriffs, nonprofits and, increasingly, politically influential corporations like Florida-based GEO Group.

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Florida Attorneys Lend Support to Separated Immigrant Families - Daily Business Review

By Catherine Wilson 

June 27, 2018 

Several Florida law firms have pledged to help reunify separated immigrant families and volunteered to represent asylum seekers on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Akerman chairman and CEO David I. Spector and Bilzin Sumberg chairman John Sumberg are among the law firm leaders who joined a coalition effort by dozens of law firms nationally offering pro bono representation for the detained children.

Greenberg Traurig co-president Hilarie Bass, in her role as president of the American Bar Association, visited the Port Isabel Detention Center in Texas and the McAllen, Texas, federal courthouse Tuesday to see the situation first hand.

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We Must Not Forget Detained Migrant Children - The New Yorker

One of my earliest childhood memories is of being torn away from my mother. I was four years old and she was leaving Haiti for the United States to join my father, who’d emigrated two years earlier, to escape both a dictatorship and poverty. My mother was entrusting my younger brother and me to the care of my uncle and his wife, who would look after us until our parents could establish permanent residency—they had both travelled on tourist visas—in the United States.

On the day my mother left, I wrapped my arms around her legs before she headed for the plane. She leaned down and tearfully unballed my fists so that my uncle could peel me off her. As my brother dropped to the floor, bawling, my mother hurried away, her tear-soaked face buried in her hands. She couldn’t bear to look back. We would not see her again for three years.

Some may assume that certain immigrant parents, because they leave their children behind, or send them alone on possibly perilous journeys, don’t love their children as much as, say, parents whose parental love is never tested in this way. When I was a teen-ager, I asked my parents about their immigration choices. If the lives of my brother and me had been in danger, or if they’d had no one to leave us with, they certainly would have taken us with them, they said. Though they would have never been granted visas if they hadn’t left us behind to prove that they had a reason to return.

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8-year-old boy separated from father expected to represent himself in immigration court - The Hill

June 22, 2018

By Avery Anapol

An 8-year-old boy who was separated from his father at the border was expected to represent himself in immigration court, according to a new report from The New Yorker.

The boy, named in the report by only his first name, Pedro, did not have legal counsel or a right to a public defender, The New Yorker reported.

Pedro reportedly entered the U.S. with his father last July, and was one of the first migrant children to be separated from their parents under the Trump Administration.

Jennifer Anzardo Valdes, the director of the Children’s Legal Program at nonprofit law firm Americans for Immigrant Justice, told the New Yorker that Pedro has “haunting” memories of being apprehended by immigration officers at the border in Arizona.

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Separated immigrant children are all over the U.S. now, far from parents who don’t know where they are - The Washington Post

June 24, 2018

Their mothers are missing, their fathers far away. They get pizza, maybe cold cuts. They are exhausted; they cannot sleep. There are other children around, but they had never seen those kids before, and those kids are crying or screaming or rocking or spreading the feeling that everything is not okay.

The children who were forcibly separated from their parents at the border by the United States government are all over the country now, in Michigan and Maryland, in foster homes in California and shelters in Virginia, in cold, institutional settings with adults who are not permitted to touch them or with foster parents who do not speak Spanish but who hug them when they cry.

The separations have stopped and the Trump administration has said that it is executing a plan to reunify the children with their parents before deporting them. Still, more than 2,000 children remain spread around the United States, far from their parents — many of whom have no idea where their sons and daughters have been taken.

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AI Justice is an award-winning non-profit law and advocacy firm that protects and promotes the basic human rights of immigrants. In Florida and on a national level, we champion the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children; advocate for survivors of trafficking and domestic violence; serve as a watchdog on immigration detention practices and policies; and speak for immigrant groups who have particular and compelling claims to justice.