The federal government has until Tuesday to reunite migrant children under 5 with the parents they were stripped from at the southern border.
A father on the peninsula on Friday was still waiting to be reunited with both his child and his wife — each one being held in a different state.
Walter Lopez, a Guatemalan immigrant, spends most of his time lately near the phone and hoping someone will call to say he can see his wife and child again.
Lopez’s family was detained at the border while traveling north from Guatemala.
He said the ordeal is crushing for him, especially because he has no idea how his daughter is doing inside an Arizona shelter. And what has him really worried is the phone call he received from the detention center this week.
Lopez said the southwest key program told him another child inappropriately touched her at the center twice. He said he is furious, adding that his daughter needs him now more than ever. But his own immigration status prevents him from traveling to Arizona to pick her up.
Immigrant rights group SIREN said it is not surprised by the sex assault allegations, given there was no plan or strategy in place to suddenly house thousands of children.
The Department of Health and Human Services said it may not meet a Tuesday deadline set by a federal judge to reunify all children under 5 with their families.
The feds are asking for more time and also said they are using DNA to match the families.
Lopez said all he wants is his family back. He said he will be fingerprinted in San Francisco in a couple of weeks, hoping that will allow him to claim his child.
The deadline to reunite children over 5 comes later this month. There is no word on what the courts might do if those deadlines are not met.
Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
Source: NBC Bay Area