Washington, D.C. – Hundreds of deported parents who remain separated from their children because of the last administration’s “zero tolerance” policy at the U.S.-Mexico border will now have new support and assistance to reunite with their child in the United States. Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) is partnering with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, with funding from the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, to launch a help desk to conduct targeted outreach to eligible families and to field questions or concerns they may have about registering for the program, to help reunify hundreds of separated children with their families in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, among other countries.
“KIND is thrilled to be a part of this incredibly important project to reunify parents with their children, who were forcibly taken from them more than three years ago. This is an essential step in righting the egregious wrongs done to these families by the previous administration,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “The heart of this new effort is to provide separated families with access to accurate, timely, and trusted information about the reunification pathway put in place by the Biden Administration and register families to return to the United States. These families deserve to be together, to be protected, and to have access to services that can help them heal from this incredible trauma. We are deeply grateful to UNHCR and the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration for their support and dedication to this vital work.”
KIND will be making concerted efforts to contact separated parents to inform them of the possibility for return to the United States. The Biden Administration established a family reunification pathway in September 2021 that permits parents who were separated and deported to register their case for return to the United States through the new English-language website Together.gov or the Spanish-language website Juntos.gov.
KIND’s help desk will provide counseling and help parents register to be considered for return. It will explain what return to the United States will mean for families and provide referrals for assistance with reunification. For families that KIND is unable to reach, a partner organization, Justice in Motion, will conduct local, on-the-ground searches.
KIND’s staff will attempt to contact parents and children who remain separated through phone calls, WhatsApp, and text messages. KIND is also distributing a flyer and social media content to advertise the help desk phone numbers widely, including through legal service providers and community organizations. Many of these organizations in the region will also receive training to inform them of the reunification process and how KIND can help.
KIND and UNHCR will also be coordinating with IOM, the International Organization for Migration, on this reunification program. IOM’s role is to support eligible parents, once registered on the platform, in applying for humanitarian parole to re-enter the United States and with other arrangements preparing for onward travel.
KIND has worked with more than 1,400 separated children and parents both in the United States and Central America since 2018. KIND has represented separated children in their legal cases in the United States; assisted separated, deported parents seeking return to the United States; reunified families in their country of origin; and advocated tirelessly for family reunification and an end to policies that separate families. It has also pushed for the U.S. government to take steps that will prevent family separation from ever happening again.
For more information, read KIND’s Recommendations to the Family Separation Task Force and its Blueprint: Concrete Steps to Help Children on the Move.
Media Contact: Megan McKenna, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-631-9990