In the News

Read the latest news at the intersection of immigration and child welfare.

Gov. DeSantis not budging on a move that will force hundreds of migrant kids out of FL

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Gov. DeSantis not budging on a move that will force hundreds of migrant kids out of FL

Katie LaGrone, ABC Action News (December 6, 2021)

Florida’s Governor stands by his executive order which directs the state’s Department of Children and Families not to renew the licenses of shelters and foster homes providing temporary care to unaccompanied migrant children.

“Just unacceptable”: Bipartisan Senate report criticizes HHS over shelters for migrant children

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“Just unacceptable”: Bipartisan Senate report criticizes HHS over shelters for migrant children

Fred Lucas, The Daily Signal (December 7, 2021)

Despite a recent bipartisan report highlighting concerning oversight issues with government contractors that care for migrant children, the Biden administration renewed contracts with two of those contractors.

Key officials raised alarm about care of migrant children in government custody, new memo reveals

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Key officials raised alarm about care of migrant children in government custody, new memo reveals

Priscilla Alvarez, CNN (December 10, 2021)

An internal document from the Office of Refugee Resettlement indicates growing concern within the agency about the poor conditions and lack of child-welfare guided approaches to caring for migrant children.

Biden administration discards Trump-era plan to end legal agreement protecting migrant children

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Biden administration discards Trump-era plan to end legal agreement protecting migrant children

Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News (December 11, 2021)

In response to pressure from advocates, the Biden administration is reversing plans to move forward Trump-era regulations that would end the Flores Settlement Agreement, which provides important protections to migrant children in immigration custody.

Essential but Excluded

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Essential but Excluded

Julia Preston and Ariel Goodman, The Marshall Project (December 15, 2021)

Despite essential contributions to key U.S. industries, many immigrants and their U.S. citizen children have been cut out of pandemic relief.

Teen says he was questioned about his age, separated from parents at the border

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Teen says he was questioned about his age, separated from parents at the border

Damià Bonmatí and Belisa Morillo, Noticias Telemundo Investiga; NBC News (December 16, 2021)

A 16-year-old Nicaraguan teenager experienced forced separation from his parents and detention in adult ICE facilities, including solitary confinement, after border agents questioned his age and birth certificate.

Language barrier: Immigrant parents tell tales of exclusion

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Language barrier: Immigrant parents tell tales of exclusion

Claudia Lauer and Vanessa Alvarez (the Associated Press), ABC News (November 23, 2021)

This article lays out rising language access concerns among non-English speaking parents across Philadelphia’s school districts, which are leaving these parents feeling excluded from their children’s education.

Biden administration makes more areas off-limits for immigration arrests

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Biden administration makes more areas off-limits for immigration arrests

Cameron Langford, Courthouse News Service (October 27, 2021)

The Biden Administration has released new policy guidelines that prevent immigration enforcement operations from being conducted in places that offer essential services like schools, hospitals, churches, playgrounds, and other now protected areas.

Parents of 337 migrant children separated at border under Trump still have not been found, court filing says

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Parents of 337 migrant children separated at border under Trump still have not been found, court filing says

Priscilla Alvarez, CNN (August 11, 2021)

Attorneys are still trying to identify and reunite the parents of 337 migrant children who were separated at the US-Mexico border under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. This number is down from 368 in June.

Federal Judge Overturns Biden Admin’s Repeal Of Trump-era ‘Remain In Mexico’ Border Policy

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Federal Judge Overturns Biden Admin’s Repeal Of Trump-era ‘Remain In Mexico’ Border Policy

Daniel Villarreal, Newsweek (August 13, 2021)

A federal judge has overturned the Biden administration’s attempted repeal of the Migrant Protection Protocol, which was implemented by the Trump administration to require immigrants and asylum seekers to remain in Mexico pending their immigration court hearings in the U.S.

DHS rolls out new Alternatives to Detention pilot program with expanded migrant services

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DHS rolls out new Alternatives to Detention pilot program with expanded migrant services

Sandra Sanchez, Border Report (August 17, 2021)

The Department of Homeland Security has announced it will be implementing a new case management program, the Alternatives to Detention program, which recruits help from nonprofits to track and offer supportive services to migrants.

Nevada judge says immigration law making reentry a felony is unconstitutional, has racist origins

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Nevada judge says immigration law making reentry a felony is unconstitutional, has racist origins

Michelle Rindels & Riley Snyder, The Nevada Independent (August 18, 2021)

A Nevada federal judge has ruled that Section 1326, which makes it a felony to reenter the U.S. after being deported, is unconstitutional as it was enacted with discriminatory intent against Latinos, violating the Equal Protection Clause.

The Trump administration used an early, unreported program to separate migrant families along a remote stretch of the border

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The Trump administration used an early, unreported program to separate migrant families along a remote stretch of the border

Kevin Sieff, The Washington Post (July 7, 2021)

The Trump administration began separating migrant families in the Yuma, Arizona region of the U.S.-Mexico border months earlier than previously reported through a program known as the Criminal Consequence Initiative, resulting in the separation of at least 234 families from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2017.

Undocumented Immigrants Can Get Licenses. ICE Can Get Their Data.

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Undocumented Immigrants Can Get Licenses. ICE Can Get Their Data.

Kimberly Cataudella and Alexia Fernández Campbell, Huff Post (July 13, 2021)

According to a Center for Public Integrity investigation, at least 7 states have shared personal information from drivers with ICE since January 2020, raising concern about the risks of getting drivers licenses for undocumented individuals.

DCF is not providing interpreters for immigrant families, advocates say, a failure that can have seismic consequences

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DCF is not providing interpreters for immigrant families, advocates say, a failure that can have seismic consequences

Matt Stout, Boston Globe (July 14, 2021)

Several advocacy groups are calling for an investigation into a Massachusetts’ child welfare agency due to concerns of discrimination against immigrant families by continuous failures to provide non-English-speaking parents with interpretation.

This is what happens to child migrants found alone at the border, from the moment they cross into the US until age 18

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This is what happens to child migrants found alone at the border, from the moment they cross into the US until age 18

This article details the process that unaccompanied minors go through when they arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border, through the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and beyond.

Biden Administration Gives More Discretion to Prosecutors to Pursue or Drop Immigration Cases

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Biden Administration Gives More Discretion to Prosecutors to Pursue or Drop Immigration Cases

Raymond G. Lahoud, The National Law Review (June 22, 2021)

ICE issued a memo in late May that expanded on ICE prosecutors’ discretion to dismiss cases of certain immigrants, e.g., long-time permanent residents; the pregnant, elderly, or those with serious health condition; or those who’ve been in the U.S. since a young age.

U.S. stops flying migrant families across southern border states amid pressure from advocates

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U.S. stops flying migrant families across southern border states amid pressure from advocates

Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News (May 12, 2021)

In response to growing pressure from advocacy groups, the U.S. government has ended its practice of transporting migrant families who crossed the border in south Texas to El Paso and San Diego, where they would then expel them to Mexico.

Parents of 391 migrant children separated at border under Trump still have not been found, court filing says

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Parents of 391 migrant children separated at border under Trump still have not been found, court filing says

Priscilla Alvarez, CNN (May 19, 2021)

Attorneys have successfully located 54  parents of migrant children who were separated at the US-Mexico border during the Trump administration, but are still working to find and contact the parents of 391 children.

Biden administration extends deportation relief for Haitian immigrants, allows new applications

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Biden administration extends deportation relief for Haitian immigrants, allows new applications

Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News (May 22, 2021)

The Biden administration has announced that it will extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for 54,000 Haitian immigrants living in the U.S. by 18 months, and it will allow tens of thousands of other eligible Haitians to apply for relief.

Biden administration scraps plans to house “tender age” migrant children at Texas Army base

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Biden administration scraps plans to house “tender age” migrant children at Texas Army base

Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News (May 24, 2021)

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has done away with a plan to house up to 5,000 migrant children under the age of 12 at the Fort Bliss Army base in El Paso amid concerns of subpar conditions and prolonged stays.

Biden official defends Trump-era immigration policy

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Biden official defends Trump-era immigration policy

Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill (May 26, 2021)

Despite ongoing pressure to undo the Title 42 policy, which enables immigration officials to turn away migrants due to COVID-19, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended the Biden administration’s continued use of this policy.

Hampered by the Pandemic: Unaccompanied Child Arrivals Increase as Earlier Preparedness Shortfalls Limit the Response

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Hampered by the Pandemic: Unaccompanied Child Arrivals Increase as Earlier Preparedness Shortfalls Limit the Response

Mark Greenberg, MPI (March 2021)

This article discusses how shortfalls in preparedness resulted in overcrowding at U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities in the months of February and March when there was an increase in the number of unaccompanied child migrants entering the United States.

From the Border, into Foster Care

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From the Border, into Foster Care

Swathi Kella, Harvard Political Review (March 19, 2021)

This article takes a closer look at the experience of undocumented migrant children that are in custody of the government and end up in foster care, issues related to the current immigration system in the United States, and the process of reunification. Experts also share advice on how to improve the foster care system for migrant children.

An Update on Conditions Facing Immigrant Children at the Border

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An Update on Conditions Facing Immigrant Children at the Border

Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights (March 29, 2021)

The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights provides an update on what is currently happening at the U.S.-Mexico border and the impact that it is having on immigrant children. The update also offers recommendations for protecting children and asylum-seekers that are entering into the United States.

With Covid-19, Nearly Half of U.S. Farm Workers Are ‘First in Exposure, Last in Protection’

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With Covid-19, Nearly Half of U.S. Farm Workers Are ‘First in Exposure, Last in Protection’

Meghan Roos, Newsweek (April 14, 2021)

Undocumented migrant workers in the United States are still struggling to receive adequate protection against COVID-19.  Examples of how they have not and are still not protected include work conditions that do not allow for social distancing, lack of access to personal protective equipment, not having access to COVID-19 testing, and now not being prioritized for vaccinations.

‘Nobody Would Tell Me Anything’: Immigrant Parents Struggle to Find Children in U.S. Custody

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‘Nobody Would Tell Me Anything’: Immigrant Parents Struggle to Find Children in U.S. Custody

Dasha Burns and Julia Ainsley, NBC News (April 16, 2021)

This article explores the difficulties that immigrant parents are experiencing trying to locate their children that are currently in custody in the United States as well as the process that some parents have had to go through to reunite with their children.

Late at Night, the U.S. is Expelling Migrants Back into Dangerous Mexico Border Cities

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Late at Night, the U.S. is Expelling Migrants Back into Dangerous Mexico Border Cities

Dianne Solis & Alfredo Corchado, Dallas News (April 22, 2021)

Migrant families that have entered the United States are being sent to Mexico late at night.  Many are being sent back under Title 42, a Trump-era order that the Biden administration is still using.

Biden administration will let migrant families separated under Trump reunite inside U.S.

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Biden administration will let migrant families separated under Trump reunite inside U.S. 

Jacob Soboroff, Julia Ainsley and Geoff Bennett, NBC News (March 1, 2021) 

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has announced that families separated at the border will be allowed to decide whether to reunite in their home countries or the U.S. Should they decide to reunify in the U.S., legal pathways to remain here and providing resources for transportation, healthcare, and mental health services will be explored.

As more migrant children arrive, Biden faces political hurdles

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As more migrant children arrive, Biden faces political hurdles 

Suzanne Monyak, Roll Call (March 1, 2021) 

The number of migrant children in custody in the United States has more than doubled since this time last year, testing the Biden administration’s promise for a more humane immigration policy approach. Despite these challenges, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has said that the administration plans to “re-engineer” the process for handling unaccompanied children to make it more efficient.

Fighting to reunite refugee children, 7-year-old Grapevine girl makes room in her own home

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Fighting to reunite refugee children, 7-year-old Grapevine girl makes room in her own home 

Sean Giggy, WFAA Dallas (March 3, 2021) 

7-year-old Paisley has become an unlikely activist for refugees after reading a story about them from the Bible. At just 6-years-old she collected almost 300 stuffed animals, delivered toiletries and supplies, and raised $50,000 to open a school for refugee children – and she is still on a mission to help. She has pledged to sleep outside of her house every night until all children separated from their parents at the border are reunited. “I’m never gonna stop changing the world…I’m gonna do it forever,” Paisley says.

Biden’s task force explores legal status for separated migrant families. It could get complicated.

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Biden’s task force explores legal status for separated migrant families. It could get complicated. 

Kristina Davis, The San Diego Union-Tribune (March 7, 2021) 

A new task force initiated by the Biden administration focusing upon reunifying over 1,000 families separated at the border will begin examining which pathways will allow the United States to begin to unravel the chaos created through the previous administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy. While presidential powers are being explored as temporary solutions, it appears that the solution offering the most permanent results will be through legislation.

Some Central American Children Will Soon Be Able To Apply To Get Into The US From Their Home Countries

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Some Central American Children Will Soon Be Able To Apply To Get Into The US From Their Home Countries 

Hamed Aleaziz, Buzzfeed News (March 10, 2021) 

The Biden administration is restarting the Central American Migrants program allowing for parents from this region with legal status in the United States to request a two-year renewable approval for their children to enter the country. The restart will occur through a two-phase process beginning with processing applications denied after the Trump administration halted the program in 2017. The program will begin accepting new applications in the coming weeks.

House Passes 2 Bills Aimed At Overhauling The Immigration System

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House Passes 2 Bills Aimed At Overhauling The Immigration System 

Barbara Sprunt & Claudia Grisales, NPR (March 18, 2021)

The approval of two immigration bills in the House, the American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, address status issues for agricultural workers and undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. Both are promising adjustments to the U.S. immigration system, signaling the beginning of renewed immigration proposals introduced by President Biden. However, with GOP pushback on such legislation, each bill’s future in the Senate is uncertain.

More Than 100,000 Kids Could Show Up Alone at Our Border This Year. What’s Going On?

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More Than 100,000 Kids Could Show Up Alone at Our Border This Year. What’s Going On? 

Isabela Dias, Mother Jones (March 19, 2021)

To bring context to the influx of children and teens arriving at our border, which increased by over 60% in February and where, on average, 500 children are arriving every day, a human rights lawyer and vice president for policy and advocacy at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Jennifer Podkul, discusses what we know about the arriving unaccompanied minors, why they are being held longer in detention, and what the Biden administration is doing to assist in placing children in the care of their sponsors.

How Foster Families Are Stepping Up to House Unaccompanied Children Arriving at the U.S.-Mexico Border

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How Foster Families Are Stepping Up to House Unaccompanied Children Arriving at the U.S.-Mexico Border 

Jasmine Aguilera, TIME Magazine (March 19, 2021)

Focusing on the story of one foster family who has taken in immigrant children who arrived unaccompanied at the U.S.-Mexico border, this article uses their experiences to address the broader issues that organizations are facing in rapidly trying to find temporary homes for children in the aftermath of policies like Title 42 which rapidly expelled children rather than reuniting them with sponsors in the United States.

U.S. races to find bed space for migrant children as number of unaccompanied minors in government custody hits 15,500

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U.S. races to find bed space for migrant children as number of unaccompanied minors in government custody hits 15,500 

Camilo Montoya-Galves, NBC News (March 21, 2021)

By the end of March, the United States will be currently housing 15,500 children. 5,000 of these children are being kept in a Border Patrol tent facility well past the 72-hour limit prescribed by U.S. law. Due to limited bed space and the increasing number of unaccompanied minors, the sole refugee agency with HSS has had to open makeshift facilities to get children away from Border Patrol facilities. Thus far, the Biden administration has refused to expel these children back to their home countries, calling the previous administration’s practice of doing so inhumane.

Expelled from U.S. at night, migrant families weigh next steps

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Expelled from U.S. at night, migrant families weigh next steps

Associated Press (March 28, 2021)

Due to pandemic constraints, immigrants are being expelled from the United States into the city of Reynosa, Mexico, in the middle of the night, leaving many families left to wonder what to do. Further pandemic restrictions mean that parents often make the painful decision to send their children across the border alone as children under 7 are currently allowed to pursue asylum. One mother from Guatemala discussed sending her son across the border alone, stating simply, “We’re in God’s hands.”