Immigration attorneys in Texas that represent undocumented migrant parents separated from their kids are calling a new tactic by federal agents "extortion," Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.
"Some ICE officers have come into the dorms, and told them that if they withdraw their request from asylum, then they can get their children back," Jodi Goodwin says.
She says the insinuation is that, if they don't comply, the parents would not see their kids again. She says it's crazy and cruel, in her opinion, to prey upon the desperation these parents are feeling.
"They're mad and they're sad and they're desperate, all at the same time," she explains. "They feel useless in terms of being able to get their kids back."
Goodwin, who represents several migrant parents who have lost their kids, say the reunification process is going painful slow, which is why she's critical of this latest tactic.
The move comes as the Trump Administration continues to crack down on illegal immigration. In a tweet, the president suggested that migrants who cross the border should just be sent home without seeing a judge.
The statement was backed up by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
“Just because you don’t see a judge doesn’t mean you don’t receive due process. The president would like to see more expedited removal," she told reporters this week.
In their latest numbers, Customs and Border Protection has reunited 522 Unaccompanied Alien Children who were in their custody as part of the Zero Tolerance initiative. Meanwhile, As of June 20th, the Department of Health and Human Services has 2,053 separated minors being cared for in their facilities.
Currently only 17-percent of minors in HHS funded facilities were placed there as a result of Zero Tolerance enforcement, and the remaining 83-percent percent arrived to the United States without a parent or guardian.