Annunciation House helping 30 immigrant parents

32 immigrant parents separated from children are released from jail in El Paso

EL PASO, Texas (CBS4/KFOX14) -- The first group of immigrant parents who were separated from their children has been released in El Paso. This is just the first step in the families being reunited. The parents are staying on Leon Street in Downtown El Paso on Sunday night, and it looks as if the path to finding their children is going to be a long one.

Thirty-two parents were released from the county jail facility Sunday. Their children were separated from them under the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy and the parents were going to be prosecuted. Now that the policy has been reversed, the charges against the parents are being withdrawn.

"The charges were not dismissed by a judge, but rather, they were withdrawn by the government,” said Annunciation House director Ruben Garcia. “After they were withdrawn, these parents were then transferred into the custody of Border Patrol in their substations and they began the process, the paperwork process, that is required for them to be released. It is a two-step process where Border Patrol does part of the paperwork and then it's turned over to ICE. ICE does the remaining work and ICE is the entity that releases them."

"Either an order of release on recognizance, which is similar to a criminal PR (personal recognizance) bond, or a bond where somebody has been let out of detention without having to pay any money, but they are still waiting to have immigration proceedings,” said Annunciation House legal coordinator Taylor Levy.

Now, these parents will start the deportation process. Many of them arrived on Leon Street wearing GPS ankle bracelets. They are allowed to travel anywhere in the country while waiting for their day in court.

"If they were not released with permission to travel, you would, in effect, convert the city of El Paso into an extended open detention facility and people would be locked into El Paso,” Garcia said.

Annunciation House said this will eventually lead to parents being reunited with their children, but it may not be easy.

"I was told that the only thing they are going to be provided is the 1-800 number. That, to us, is very problematical because we've had people in our houses that have attempted to go through that 1-800 number, and it's been very, very difficult. It's just not operating the way that it should,” Garcia said.

Annunciation House’s legal program will be offering these parents pro bono immigration legal services for the duration of their immigration cases.

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