December 15, 2023

A Los Angeles Times December 15 publication reported on the family separations taking place at the San Diego border, citing a letter written by the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, Al Otro Lado, Jewish Family Service of San Diego, and the UCLA Center for Immigration Law and Policy. 

The letter identified 1,081 family separations, 400 separations of spouses, and 200 separations of adult children and parents. 

Separations are the result of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s practice of releasing migrants to various locations without coordinated reception plans, as they handle increased arrivals of asylum seekers. Al Otro Lado reported these separations among the migrants they serve daily at a San Diego border welcome center. Some families remained separated even after being transferred to long-term detention, and in two cases, one family member was deported while others stayed in the U.S. Some families remain separated even after being transferred to long term detention. 

Many separated families claimed they informed CBP of their family status, but were rarely informed of potential separation or how to locate relatives. A migrant mother reported she was separated from her 19 year old son for five days after being transported to another immigration center unaware of her child’s whereabouts. “It’s hell,” she said. “Not knowing if your son is safe, if he is alive, if something happened to him. All you can do is pray to God.”

In the letter, advocacy groups urged The Department of Homeland Security to broaden the family group definition, document relationships, and ensure families are released together. 

Castillo, Andrea. “Over 1,000 Migrant Families Separated at Border near San Diego since September, Advocates Say.” Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2023.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP, DHS

Event Type(s): Conditions of Arrest or Apprehension, Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Endangerment, Family Separation

Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Family Unit