Working to Reunite Detained Migrant Children with Family and Loved Ones

With each passing day, President Trump’s cruel immigration policies keep unaccompanied migrant children locked in detention facilities rather than reunited with family members or other adults who can provide them with a loving home.


In just the last year, the number of migrant children in federal custody has ballooned fivefold to more than 13,000 and they’ve been forced to wait nearly twice as long to be released from ICE custody. Many of these children were recently moved from shelters to prison-camp like facilities on the southern border, further traumatizing these already-fearful and emotionally distraught youth.

A new Trump administration policy requires all members of a household wishing to care for a child who was separated from their family by ICE, or who arrived in the United States without their family, to undergo fingerprinting and background checks. That information is also shared with ICE, which can force a family to choose whether to leave a child in detention or expose themselves to immigration enforcement. While it is important to vet sponsors for the safety and well-being of children in custody, this burdensome new policy was put in place with little input or evidence that it would make children safer.

Today, AG Racine and several states called on the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services to stop this harmful and unnecessary policy. They write:

Specifically, we are alarmed by the consequences of a policy requiring the collection of biometric and background information from all household members in prospective sponsors’ homes and the automatic sharing of that information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This policy causes unnecessary delays and imposes unjustified burdens in the sponsorship process.

Additionally, the policy leaves many prospective sponsors—including some who are parents of the children in question—with the untenable choice of either leaving children to languish in federal custody or coming forward and exposing themselves or loved ones to immigration enforcement. The result is that migrant children, many of them fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries, suffer prolonged detention instead of being reunited with family members or other appropriate adults who can provide them with loving homes. We strongly urge you to immediately reverse this policy.

Read the full letter here.

Earlier this month, AG Racine urged the Trump administration to reconsider rolling back protections that give all immigrant children a right to be released from detention, set standards for detention conditions, and provided meaningful oversight and monitoring of their care while in custody.