On June 23, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a fact sheet on zero-tolerance prosecution and family reunification. The fact sheet indicates that DHS and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have established a process “to ensure that family members know the location of their children and have regular communication after separation.”
The fact sheet outlines the various steps taken by both federal agencies to help parents and children who have been separated. DHS is now supporting a dedicated processing center to house parents “going through the removal process.” This processing center, located in San Antonio, will support regular communication between parents and children. The fact sheet underscores that, “every effort is made to ensure minors are able to communicate (either telephonic or video depending on the circumstances) with their parent or guardian (at least twice per week).” In addition, “attorneys representing minors have unlimited telephone access and the minor may speak to other appropriate stakeholders, such as their consulate, the case coordinator, or child advocate.”
As of June 20, HHS has 2,053 children separated from their parents under its care. A hotline has been established to help parents determine if their child is under the custody of HHS’ Office of Refugee and Resettlement. The fact sheet indicates that the federal government knows the location of all children in its custody.
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