2 Brazilian boys held in Chicago now reunited with fathers, attorney confirms
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The legal fight over two Brazilian boys separated for weeks from their fathers and held in Chicago appears to be leaving Illinois.
Still, one of their attorneys said Thursday, “there are still a significant number of children being held in detention here in Illinois that need to be processed.”
The two Brazilian boys, known publicly as C.D.A. and W.S.R., have been reunited with their fathers after being separated since May 25, their lawyers confirmed Thursday.
While the boys were held in Chicago, the fathers were held near the Mexican border.
U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang ordered the government Monday to reunite the boys with their fathers within 72 hours. W.S.R., who turned 16 last week, was reunited with his father in Texas, attorney Thomas Yardley said. The pair was later freed, he said, though the father was given an ankle monitor.
C.D.A., 9, was reunited with his father in Chicago. However, his lawyers were told the pair would be taken to a family detention center in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The boys’ lawyers have said holding them there violates a longstanding legal settlement.
Additionally, Chang has said the younger boy is already suffering “severe anxiety and depression.”
Amy Maldonado, another lawyer representing the boys, told the Chicago Sun-Times that sending the younger boy into detention is “inhumane and unjust, and we believe it’s also unlawful.”
However, any legal wrangling over the boy’s placement is now likely to occur outside of Illinois.
The reunions came the same day the Trump Administration said it had finished the reunification process for families with children under 5 years old who had been separated at the border. The families were reunited by order of a California judge.
The Justice Department said 57 children had been reunified, but 46 were ineligible.
It also said a vetting process prevented the reunification of children “with an alleged murderer, an adult convicted of child cruelty, and adults determined not to be the parent of the child.” And it warned of the Trump Administration’s “clear” message:
“Do not risk your own life or the life of your child by attempting to enter the United States illegally. Apply lawfully and wait your turn.”
Meanwhile, this is the third consecutive week a ruling out of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse has reunited a child held in Chicago with a parent held far away.
In his order Monday, Chang called the ongoing harm to the two Brazilian boys “obvious and intense.” However, he said he had no authority to have the fathers released from the custody of immigration officials.
The judge also said the Justice Department had failed to explain, “what objective it is trying to accomplish by keeping the boys separated from their fathers.”
Without that explanation, the judge said, “the government’s insistence on keeping these boys from their fathers can only be deemed arbitrary and conscience shocking.”
The boys were held in Chicago in shelters run by the Heartland Alliance. The Chicago Sun-Times recently gave a glimpse into their lives there — and published drawings by C.D.A.
W.S.R. and his father came to the United States to flee a drug trafficker in their neighborhood targeting them with death threats, records show. C.D.A.’s father owes $8,000 to a Brazilian loan shark involved in human trafficking.
Both pairs allegedly tried to enter the United States at a port of entry, only to be turned away. They later tried to cross outside of a port of entry and were detained.
The fathers have pleaded guilty to illegal entry and were sentenced to time served before being returned to the custody of immigration officials, the judge said.