For immigrant families without biological parents, separation might be permanent

September 7, 2018
The Orange County Register

“Grandma Rosy” is back home now, in El Salvador, living alone, without the 12-year-old granddaughter she is raising.

Earlier this year the pair spent a month traveling on foot and by bus to get to the United States to seek asylum. But last month the grandmother was deported. The girl, meanwhile, spent about two months in custody as part of the Trump administration’s immigration policy, and was later released to a relative.

Their story has a twist: While you’ve heard a lot about immigrant children who remain in the United States and separated from their parents, the grandmother and granddaughter are part of another group – non-parental families who’ve also been separated at the border.


Most of these non-parent families haven’t been covered much in the media. And it’s unclear exactly how many people are in their situation, nor is it known how many of the nearly 500 immigrant children who remain in federal custody arrived in the United States with people who are not their biological parents.

Advocates say only that they know of numerous cases of grandparents, older siblings, aunts and other family members who are guardians of children they tried to bring into the country, and who have either been deported and blocked from reunification or remain in detention.