A Migrant Mother Had to Pay $576.20 to Be Reunited With Her 7-Year-Old Son

Families separated by the Trump administration end up with big airfare bills.

Immigrant children walk outside the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children in Homestead, Florida. Brynn Anderson/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

As the Trump administration continues to face criticism over its vague plans for reuniting separated families, there’s yet another obstacle confronting those who are trying to free children from government custody. The relatives of these kids have to pay steep fees, including the cost of airfare and a child escort, in order to secure their release.

As the New York Times reports, these fees, coupled with documentation requirements that include proof of income and rent receipts, can make it extremely difficult for sponsors to claim custody of the children. The Office of Refugee Resettlement, the government agency responsible for migrant children who have been apprehended by border patrol agents, says that the requirements help ensure the children are not being released to traffickers and are placed in suitable homes. Sponsors must prove that they are related to the child and financially able to support them.

Many of these policies were in place before Donald Trump’s presidency, and they apply broadly to unaccompanied minor immigrants—not just to those who were separated from their parents under Trump’s controversial “zero tolerance” policy. But according to the Times, the Obama administration waived the travel fees in 2016 when a large number migrant families crossing the border overwhelmed US facilities.

Under Trump, however, families of migrant children have been charged large sums of money. In one instance, a Los Angeles construction worker had to pay $1,800 to cover airfare for his cousin’s 14-year-old daughter—who’d been separated from her mother by immigration officials—and an escort. “They notified me a day before her release,” the man said. “I had no choice.”

In another case, a Salvadoran migrant was charged nearly $600 for her own son’s airfare when she was reunited with him:

Brenda, a Salvadoran migrant who was separated from her 7-year-old son Kevin at the border on May 27, was charged $576.20 to cover the boy’s airfare from Miami to Virginia. His escort collected the money order at Washington Dulles airport on Friday upon handing over the child to his mother.

“The government is creating impossible barriers and penalizing poverty,” Neha Desai, director of immigration at the National Center for Youth Law, told the Times.

Read the full Times story here.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate