The federal government was rushing on Thursday to reunite the last 1,634 migrant families separated at the Southwest border who have been deemed “eligible” for reunification, in the final hours of a court-ordered scramble to reverse a contentious immigration policy that drew international condemnation.
At one such facility in South Texas, the Port Isabel Detention Center, the government has been labeling some parents as “released” while they are still in custody, according to Bethany Carson, who works for Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit advocacy group in Austin.
Ms. Carson said that hundreds of parents were sent to Port Isabel this week after receiving word in the middle of the night from Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials that their children were there. When they arrived, the parents quickly changed into street clothes and were broken into groups of about 70 to wait in rooms to rejoin their children.
Some waited up to a week, Ms. Carson said, and were not allowed access to showers, phones or religious services, while efforts stalled to return their children.
“They’re completely cut off from the outside world,” she said. “And officials are saying they’re free.”