photo by Lori Barra of a mother and child

Our Response to the

Family Separation Crisis

KIND’s Family Separation Response Team continues to address the profound crisis caused by the prior administration’s “Zero Tolerance Policy” where thousands of children and families were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. We continue to help children and families address the long-term consequences of this devastating policy and seek protection.

Reunification Project

Educate Yourself

July 21, 2022

Family Separation Four Years In: Much More to Be Done

It’s been four years since that horrific summer when the previous Administration wrenched thousands of children from their parents’ arms and forcibly separated them under its barbaric Zero Toleran...

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February 1, 2022

First Year of the Family Reunification Task Force: Progress and Promise

It has been one year since the Biden Administration created the Family Reunification Task Force to find parents still separated from their children under the previous Administration’s Zero Tolerance...

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February 1, 2022

Timeline on Family Separation and Reunification Efforts

KIND outlines the last four years since family separation began and efforts to reunite families with their children.

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January 25, 2022

KIND Comments on Identifying Recommendations for the Family Reunification Task Force

Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) submits this comment in response to the above Request for Input, “Identifying Recommendations To Support the Work of the Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of...

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February 2, 2022
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

I Remember their Stories

I often get asked what it’s like to work with children and families who were forcibly separated at the border, and I have yet to find an answer that really illustrates my experience.

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November 18, 2020

Recommendations for the Biden Taskforce to Address Family Separation and Reunify Families

In 2018, the Trump Administration’s Zero Tolerance policy forcibly separated more than 2,800 children from their parents–and shocked the nation’s conscience. These separations, and the thous...

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March 15, 2019

Family Separation FAQs

Family separation continues to this day. Here's what you need to know. 

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July 13, 2018

Recommendations for Reunifying Separated Family Members

The Trump Administration was ordered to reunify thousands of migrant families forcibly separated under the Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. Here are our recommendations for reunificatio...

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June 8, 2018

Family Separation: Myth v. Fact

There are a lot of misconceptions about family separation, policy, and exactly what is happening at our borders. In this one-pager, we set the facts straight.

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October 10, 2018

The Legal Rights of Separated Children

The family separation crisis is far from over. Here we outline a list of recommendations to the government to respect children’s legal rights and end this crisis.

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October 29, 2020

Explainer: The 545 missing separated parents of immigrant and refugee children

A Steering Committee charged by a federal court to find the parents forcibly separated by the Trump Administration has not been able to reach 545 of the thousands of parents who were separated from th...

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In Their Own Words

"My child just cries when I talk to him. He's mad at me and doesn't want to talk. There's nothing I can do to make him feel better."
Mother in Guatemala
"I didn't know my son was in the hospital. I have not talked to him since they took him from me a few months ago"
Detained father separated from his 2-year-old son
"They called to tell me she was coming back the next day, but I didn't know where to go. When I got to the airport, the flight was late, but no one told me. I didn't know where she was for more than six hours. She is only 18 months old."
Father in Honduras
"They took me somewhere after I was separated; I remember adults and children were held together, but I only had me. I did not have anyone else" "I feel sad all the time. I don't have anyone to talk to when I feel like this. I just want to go home."
10-year-old detained child

Family Separation FAQs

Yes. In some situations, families arriving at and between ports of entry to the United States are being separated by U.S. government officials. This includes parents separated from children, and children separated from other adult caretakers or guardians.

The “Zero Tolerance” policy officially ended on June 20, 2018, and a court order in Ms. L v. Sessions, a case brought by the ACLU, on June 26, 2018, prohibited the government from further separating families. However, the court order does not cover parents who are alleged to have a criminal history, a communicable disease, or are unfit or dangerous.

Currently, there are no specific criteria in place to define the scope of these exceptions. These determinations are made at U.S. Border Patrol stations without any particular guidelines, protocols, or procedures, and without a full analysis of the best interests of the child. Border Patrol also sometimes separates a parent and child when they are unable to confirm the family relationship, or when a child trafficking situation is suspected, as required under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).

After a separation by Border Patrol, children are referred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). A child may then be taken to an ORR shelter facility hundreds or even thousands of miles away. The adult remains in DHS custody and placed in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) adult detention facility, or in some cases is transferred to Department of Justice Bureau of Prison’s custody if being prosecuted with federal criminal entry or reentry.

You Can Make a Difference

As you can see, now more than ever, immigrant and migrant children need our help.
With family separations on the rise, children depend on us to protect them.
Show your support now.

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