Fibonacci Blue / Flickr Protester marching against Donald Trump...
Fibonacci Blue / Flickr

The Texas Tribune is now reporting that parents who crossed the border with their children are being pressured by government officials to sign voluntary deportation orders in order to be reunited with their children.

A Honduran man who spoke to The Texas Tribune Saturday estimated that 20 to 25 men who have been separated from their children are being housed at the IAH Polk County Secure Adult Detention Center, a privately-operated U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility for men located 75 miles outside Houston. He said the majority of those detainees had received the same offer of reunification in exchange for voluntary deportation.

[…] “I signed it out of desperation… but the truth is I can’t go back to Honduras; I need help.”

The use of separated, spirited-away children as bargaining chips in their parent’s asylum cases is perilously close to hostage-taking, and perilously close is the most charitable possible interpretation. That effort to deport asylum seekers regardless of the merit of their claims is, again, the transparent intent of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy targeting those refugees.

And while the offer of reunification “at the airport” in exchange for giving up asylum claims is being used to intimidate parents, the threat of what may happen to their children if they do not agree seems not to be an idle one. Would-be asylum seekers are in fact being forcibly deported without their children; other governments are confirming these reports.

The administration has repeatedly lied about nearly every aspect of their “zero tolerance” policy, but we know one thing for certain: The policy was enacted as explicitly racist effort to curb asylum claims from a so-called “invasion” of “rural” non-English speakers from Central and South America. That is the part they said out loud.

And in enforcing it, they are now presenting parents with a cruel and inhumane choice: Give up your legal rights, or we can’t tell you when, or if, you’ll ever see your child again.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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