Two days after President Donald Trump ordered an end to the separation of families at the border, federal authorities Friday cast about for jail space to detain them together, leaving hundreds of parents in the dark on when they would be reunited with their children.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement posted a notice saying it is looking into creating 15,000 beds for use in detaining immigrant families. A day earlier, the Pentagon agreed to provide space for as many as 20,000 migrants on US military bases.
Beyond that, however, there was nothing but frustration and worry for many of the parents separated from their children and placed in detention centers for illegally entering the country over the past several weeks. Some parents struggled to get in touch with youngsters being held in many cases hundreds of miles away, in places like New York and the Chicago area. Some said they didn’t even know where their children were.
Trump himself took a hard line on the crisis, accusing the Democrats of telling “phony stories of sadness and grief.” He met with parents who had children killed by immigrants in the country illegally to make the point that they are the real victims of weak borders.
“We cannot allow our country to be overrun by illegal immigrants,” the president tweeted.
More than 2,300 children were taken from their families at the border in recent weeks. A senior Trump administration official said that about 500 of them have been reunited since May.
Trump’s decision to stop separating families, announced Wednesday after a fierce international outcry, has led to confusion and uncertainty along the border. Federal agencies are working to set up a centralized reunification process for all remaining children at a detention center in Texas, said the senior administration official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.