Why children are separated from their parents at the border

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus sent a letter Friday to child welfare agencies in southern border states, requesting information on child separations at the border. The caucus letter specifically referred to cases where the children had been born in United States territory and were therefore U.S. citizens.

Reporting on this development, the San Diego Union-Tribune contacted San Diego County Child Welfare Service. The agency explained that between 2014 and 2019, approximately 1,114 U.S.-born children have been separated from illegal immigrant parents and taken into temporary child welfare custody in San Diego County.

Why are children separated from their parents at the border?

In normal cases, migrant children separated from their families are taken into the custody of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. When a U.S.-born child is involved, border authorities call the relevant county welfare agency.

The Union-Tribune spoke with Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Patricia McGurk-Daniel from the U.S. Border Patrol San Diego Sector. She explained that migrant children are treated the same as the children of any parent who gets into trouble with a law-enforcement agency. The child’s safety is ensured by transferring them to the custody of the appropriate child welfare authority.

Children are not thrown into detention facilities together with their parents. When the Border Patrol is involved there are special considerations: Children must be protected from human smugglers and from drug traffickers who use them to masquerade as “normal” migrants.

A progressive cause célèbre

The Border Patrol practice was brought to light in December when a 19-year-old pregnant woman from Honduras tried to “seek asylum” by traveling north through Guatemala, all the way up through Mexico, and illegally crossing the U.S. border into San Diego. She then promptly delivered a baby at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, after being taken into immigration custody.

Why this person is spoken of with straight faces by progressives as an “asylum seeker” is something they would have to try to explain.

She was visiting her daughter in the hospital intensive care unit when a Border Patrol agent informed her that she was either going to be taken back to immigration detention or sent back to Mexico under the Remain in Mexico program, to await her asylum hearing.

The pliant staff at the San Diego Union-Tribune was used by immigration advocates to turn this incident into a local cause célèbre and the woman was paroled into the U.S. Subsequently, the child and mother relocated to be near family in another part of the country.

The Honduran “asylum seeker” had traveled all the way through Guatemala and Mexico to deliver her baby in the United States and then join relatives already here.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is not legal advice.