Government Shutdown Prolonging Detention of Immigrant Children
An official in the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (“ORR”) confirmed to me today that the government shutdown has caused a significant delay in the release of many unaccompanied immigrant children to their family in the United States.
I have been working on the reunification of one child with that of his relative in New York. Although all the necessary paperwork was completed for the child’s reunification, he has not been released from detention yet because certain post-release services required for his release are not available due to the lack of funds caused by the government shutdown.
The result is a substantial delay in the release from detention of the most vulnerable unaccompanied immigrant children.
Because of these extraordinary circumstances, it may be wise for ORR to release these children notwithstanding the availability of post-release services. Prolonged detention can have serious adverse consequences on an individual’s mental health, especially if it is a child fleeing violence or abuse.