The images of the detention centers along the country’s southern border are difficult for Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services Director (IRIS) Director Chris George to see.
“I’m a father of three kids. I can not imagine to what it’s like to have my children separated from me,” said George.
Their group helps families relocate around Connecticut.
“These are people fleeing very similar conditions that the refugees we’ve been working with are fleeing,” said George.
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He’s grateful for the recent federal judge ruling in California on an ACLU lawsuit. It gave detailed guidelines and it requires officials to stop detaining parents apart from their children. That’s unless the parent is considered unfit or if the parent declines reunification.
Next, it states children under the age of 5 must be back with their parents within 14 days. If the child is older than 5, that is extended to 30 days. Just Tuesday, before this ruling, the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urged Congress to act.
“If the parents didn’t bring them across illegally, this would never happen. We are where we are in terms of once they’re separated, we want to reunite them. If Congress will get rid of the 20 day ban on family reunification, we will act so quickly to get those kids back together with their parents,” said Azar.
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“When you are running for your life, when you’ve got no future in your home country, you take desperate measures and I don’t think any of us should blame parents for taking those risks,” George added.
Nearly 2,000 children are in these detention centers without their parents. This ruling also forces officials to facilitate a phone call between the kids and their parents within 10 days.