President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily halted his administration’s separation of immigrant families, promising to end the separation of migrant children from their parents. But for the foster care programs tasked with caring for those already separated, a lack of government guidance has left them — and the fates of children in their care — in limbo.
“Frankly, our expectation is nothing different is going to happen for the kids” compared to before Trump’s executive order, said Kay Bellor, the vice president of programs at the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, which has found foster homes for a number of these separated children, including an 18-month-old. She said she anticipates the kids “will not be all reunited with their parents by next week or something.”
Indeed, the Department of Health and Human Services has not developed a plan yet to reunite these families, according to the Associated Press. More than 2,000 children separated from their parents in the weeks since the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy was enacted. And Trump’s executive order does not explicitly state anything about the children already miles away from their parents due to the policy. The Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
For now, foster care programs plan to continue taking care of these kids (the Department of Health and Human Services stipulates unaccompanied children must be transferred to foster homes or shelters funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement within 72 hours). Caring for those children means finding members of their families already based in the U.S., temporary foster parents or counseling them in shelters with other children.