According to The Texas Tribune, children who have been forcibly taken from their migrant parents are being held as hostages so that the parents will agree to voluntary deportation.
The newspaper is reporting that adults who illegally crossed the border into Texas with children are “being pressured by government officials” to sign voluntary deportation orders and are being told that doing so will allow them to be reunited with their children. They are told that if they don’t sign the orders they will be deported without their children.
The reports of this are coming from the IAH Polk County Secure Adult Detention Center near Houston. A large number of migrant adults there have been told that if they sign the deportation papers and go to the airport to return to their homes in Central America they will be reunited with their children at the airport.
It’s not clear what will happen if they don’t sign the papers, however, although The New York Times has reported that in many cases migrants are being forcibly deported without their children. In addition, Reuters has reported that the situation has gotten so serious that the governments of Central American countries are now demanding that children who were separated in the U.S. be sent back to their parents who were deported. In these cases the parents have no idea where their children are and have no assurances that they will ever see their children again.
By pressuring the migrants to sign the deportation orders they are forcing them to give up their rights as asylum seekers. What Trump’s zero tolerance policy is intended to do is deport more asylum seekers.
On Friday a Homeland Security official was quoted as saying that after their children were taken away from them, “separated parents were quickly given the option to sign paperwork leading to deportation. Many chose to do so.”
But Houston immigration lawyer Bob Etnyre said that this policy illustrates “a particularly diabolical aspect of the family separations — dangling reunification as an incentive to drop an asylum claim.”
These latest reports make clear that Donald Trump will do anything he can to deport asylum seekers and get them to give up their legal rights. Over the weekend he said that these people should have no due process or other rights under the U.S. Constitution.