Migrant families

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Apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexico border have dropped by nearly 53% from 2019, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. CBS News’ Mireya Villarreal traveled to the Texas-Mexico border to see how families who are still hoping to enter the U.S. are coping. 

“No hay nada allí,” a family of three along the border told CBS News during a ride with Border Patrol agents. Their message translates to “There is nothing over there,” and that story of despair — shared by many other families — often worsens long after reaching the border.

Despite the Trump administration’s child separation policy no longer being active, the American Civil Liberties Union revealed last week that court-appointed lawyers could not locate the parents of 545 children who were separated along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Justice in Motion, a group that works closely with human rights attorneys on the ground fighting for migrants’ rights, is trying desperately to solve the issue.

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“We are the ones tasked with finding the parents who have been deported after their children were taken away from them at the border,” Executive Director Cathleen Caron said. “These parents want to be unified. The question is, how can they get reunified?”

However, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf has said that parents made the decision to stay separated from their children when given the choice.

“They have chosen to have their kids remain here in the United States while they remain back in their home countries,” he told CBS News’ Catherine Herridge.

The reunification efforts come as another Trump White House policy is making it harder for those seeking asylum. In 2019, the administration ruled that those migrants must remain in Mexico while waiting for their cases to be heard. They called it a “humanitarian approach” that would “end the exploitation of our generous immigration laws.”

That decision led to camps springing up just across the U.S. border, and with immigration courts closed over coronavirus concerns, some refugees are left waiting there for more than a year. 

Sister Norma Pimentel, the executive director of the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, works with asylum seekers across the border. She told Villarreal she was concerned for the families’ safety at the camps.

“The families are exposed to so many dangers,” she said.

Pimentel expressed frustration in the way the federal government was treating the migrants. 

“All our policies are geared toward simply to deter families, to discourage them, to totally disregard the humanity,” she said.

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