Family separation returns under cover of the coronavirus

Molly O'Toole - Los Angeles Times

"Citing the coronavirus to seal the border to an unprecedented extent, the [U.S.] administration is engaged in a pressure campaign against immigrant parents to get them to give up either their kids or their legal claims to protection in the U.S.," says this article from the Los Angeles Times. The article begins with the story of one family whose three children — ages 10, 14, and 16 — are living with their father in the U.S. but have been given deportation orders and "U.S. officials are fighting in court to take the three children and deport them to El Salvador — to no one."

The children's mother, who is in a "makeshift refugee camp" in Mexico trying to seek asylum in the U.S., was told by government lawyers that "they’d put her on a plane with the kids if she agreed to return to El Salvador and never again try to join her husband in the U.S." The family is fleeing El Salvador due to violent threats and persecution.

Prior to joining their father in the U.S., the three children had arrived to the U.S. with their mother, but officials turned them away as per the U.S. administration's new "Remain in Mexico policy" and they ended up at the camp in Matamoros, Mexico. "In roughly four months in Matamoros, the kids had 'suffered physical and sexual assault; endured illness, extreme temperatures, and malnutrition,' according to a legal filing." The children's mother and father ultimately decided that they should send the children back into the U.S. on their own, leaving their mother behind in Mexico, where they were designated as unaccompanied minors. "Many parents have chosen to take that chance rather than risk keeping their children in the refugee camps along the border," says the article, due to the terrible conditions there.