Bowling Green Immigration Attorney Skeptical of Government Reunification Plan

Jun 27, 2018
Originally published on June 29, 2018 10:10 am

An immigration attorney in Bowling Green says she doesn’t think the government can realistically reunite the more than two thousand children separated from their parents who illegally crossed the southern border. 

Most families are coming from Central America where gang activity and drug trafficking are creating chaos. 

As the U.S. government works to reunite parents and children, immigration lawyer Judy Schwank says making matches has several challenges.

"The biggest problem we have now is that a lot of the children are non-verbal," Schwank explained. "They are infants and small children who don't know mama's name, my aunt's phone number, or whatever. A lot of them don't even speak Spanish, but some indigenous language."

Although a federal judge has ordered U.S. border authorities to reunite families within 30 days, Schwank says she fears some migrant children will enter the U.S. foster care system and their cases will languish so long that the children will be adopted out to American families. 

"I will fight to the very last child," stated Schwank. "They're going to have to tell us why they can't get these children reunited. Realistically, I expect there will be a certain percentage of them that may never see their parents again, or parents who will never see their child again."

Schwank, who has made several trips to the U.S.-Mexico border, says some parents were told they would never see their children again unless they agreed to be deported.  She worries that reunification is now much more difficult given that some parents are no longer being detained in the U.S. 

Schwank is one of several thousand immigration attorneys in the U.S. who have worked pro bono to reunite children and parents since the Trump administration began enforcing a policy that detains families caught crossing the border illegally.

Copyright 2018 WKU Public Radio. To see more, visit WKU Public Radio.