SCITUATE, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s been more than a month since a federal judge halted family separations at the border and ordered children be reunited with their parents.
In the weeks since that ruling many families have been reunited and released, but hundreds of others are still separated and waiting.
Eyewitness News spoke exclusively with former Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, who just returned from a week long trip to Texas where he’s been helping detainees.
As a Spanish speaking lawyer, Taveras’ skills were sought by ProBAR, a national effort to provide free legal services to asylum seekers.
“You happy I’m home? I missed you, give me a big hug.” After spending a week with parents separated from their children, Taveras is feeling extra grateful for his family.
“I think what’s going on down south is unconscionable, so I felt like we need to do something and everyone has a role to play,” Taveras said.
His role was volunteering as an attorney for people who are still being detained after crossing the U.S. border with Mexico.
Last week, Taveras arrived in the Rio Grande Valley to join a team of lawyers from all across the country.
“A lot of children have been reunited with their parents, but there’s still hundreds who haven’t,” Taveras said.
Taveras met with ten detainees at the Port Isabel Detention Center.
“I can’t share specifics because of attorney client privilege, but the stories I heard were heartbreaking, were serious. I heard what I expect to be very valid asylum cases,” Taveras said.
He says security was tight at the visiting area. He had to leave his cell phone and watch outside, and all the notes he took were hand-written.
We asked the former mayor what his response is to people who say there’s a legal route to entering the United States and that crossing the border has known risks. Taveras responded by saying, “they should learn the law and that there’s a process also for seeking asylum. And that means that anyone can come here and seek asylum, and we have a process and laws regarding that, and we can’t ignore them simply because of politics.”
Taveras tells us, he was able to secure the release of one detainee during his time in Texas. He’s hopeful the other cases he heard will also be granted asylum soon.