Undocumented immigrants have to risk deportation to get their kids back from the government

To get their kids out of federal custody, undocumented parents have to give their fingerprints to the government — and risk deportation.

When Marix, an undocumented immigrant, gained sponsorship of her son back in 2014, all she had to do was give her name and address and sign a few papers. Today, she would have had to give her fingerprints — and risk deportation.

Activists have long pushed the Office of Refugee Resettlement, or ORR, which is in charge of unaccompanied minors, to do more to make sure the kids in their custody are taken care of. Those demands grew louder after a highly publicized scandal in 2014 and 2015 in which unaccompanied minors ended up in the hands of human traffickers.

For the past few weeks, a story has also made its way around the news about how the government lost almost 1,500 unaccompanied minors who had been detained at the border — although it wasn't true. ORR simply had trouble reaching them by phone after placing them with sponsors.

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But now that ORR has changed the process in which it vets sponsors, and what it does with the information it collects, there’s a growing fear that the agency has gone too far. The shifts are putting undocumented parents in a bind, and, as a result, making it even more difficult to check up on the children once they’re out of the government’s hands.

This segment originally aired May 31, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.