Unaccompanied migrant children spend weeks in government custody, even when their U.S.-based parents are eager to claim them

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from The Washington Post,

During the 10 days that Andrea’s 6-year-old son, Juan, was held in government custody after crossing the southwest border with his grandmother, the Venezuelan mother who lives in California said she called government officials several times a day, trying to arrange his release.

While officials seemed in no rush to recognize Andrea as Juan’s mother, those caring for him continued to call her so that she could parent him over the phone. First it was someone at Border Patrol at 4 a.m. on a Saturday as Juan was separated from his grandmother and refused to get on a bus. The next day, it was a social worker who could not get the distraught child to eat. Then a foster mother called when Juan would not go to sleep one night.

“How can they do this to a child?” said Andrea, 37, who goes by her middle name and did not want her last name used because she did not want to jeopardize her asylum case. “He’s never been separated from his family.”

Like most migrant children who cross the border without their parents, Juan seemed destined to spend weeks in the government’s care, as his case slowly worked its way through a bureaucratic system that has been overwhelmed by an unprecedented number of migrant children and teenagers arriving without their parents.

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