Immigrant families reunited in Grand Rapids after months of separation

Posted at 6:32 PM, Jul 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-10 18:32:38-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Some progress today for families separated at the border after more than three months apart. Children here in West Michigan are slowly being reunited with their parents.

Bethany Christian Services is working to meet the court-ordered deadline for reunification. Tuesday, all children under the age of five are supposed to be reunited with their families.

Today, three kids are back in the arms of their loved ones, but the future is still uncertain.

“We have two 3-year-old boys that we can speak of from our clients that haven’t seen their dad in three months,” ACLU Immigrant Rights Attorney Abril Valdes said.

This happy moment is bittersweet. A little boy is all smiles as he and his father leave an immigration building in downtown Grand Rapids. They are together for the first time in months.

“Over 2,000 kids have been ripped apart from their families, and this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Valdes said.

Attorney Ana Devereaux, who represents the children, says their journey is far from over.

“Now, they’re going to have to readjust…They’ve gone through so much trauma, and now they’ve gone through this season of not knowing whether or not they’d see them again,” Devereaux, Supervising Attorney at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, said.

Tuesday marks the deadline for children under five to be reunited with their families. But there are older children still left in limbo.

Valdes says even these small steps have been difficult.

“It’s just been terrible. There’s been no process, no rhyme or reason, they’re dragging their feet,” Abril Valdes said.

Attorneys for the parents say there have been many difficulties navigating this situation with the government. For example, they had no idea who was going to pay for transportation Tuesday to and from the reunification location. That held things up quite a bit, and they didn't know the location of the reunification until an hour before it happened.