CHICAGO (CBS) — A federal judge will hold a hearing Wednesday regarding two Brazilian boys held in Chicago for more than six weeks, after ordering them reunited with their fathers by Thursday afternoon.
U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang ordered the boys, ages 16 and 9, reunited with their fathers within 72 hours of his ruling, dated Monday afternoon. Chang said the boys are being subjected to intense and obvious harm due to their forced separation from their fathers.
The boys’ identities are being protected, but both came to American with their fathers, and tried to enter the country legally, seeking asylum, before they were turned away by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at the New Mexico border.
Attorneys for the boys said the 16-year-old and his father were marked for death by organized crime figures in Brazil, and the 9-year-old and his father had been threatened by a loan shark.
Chang has scheduled a hearing on their cases for Wednesday morning, to get an update on the boys’ status.
Their fathers remain in custody — one in New Mexico and the other in Texas. It’s unclear if the boys will be placed in family detention with their fathers, or if they and their fathers will be released pending the outcome of immigration hearings. Chang’s order prohibits the government from deporting them.
The boys have been held in a Heartland Alliance shelter housing dozens of immigrant children who either arrived in the U.S. without their parents, or were forcibly separated from their families at the border.
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster met some of the children in the Heartland Alliance facility, many of whom he feels are being traumatized by the Trump administration.
“When you looked and talked to the children, some of them were as bright and cheerful as you could ever hope for; and others were staring down at their hands or staring off into space, and wondering when they would ever see their families again,” Foster said.
The congressman said he came away from his visit with the detained children believing the Trump administration’s immigration practices are incompetent and inhumane.
“The thing to understand that these are not MS-13 gang members. These are young, scared children who are wondering when they will ever see their parents again,” he said.
The two cases in court on Wednesday are similar to those of two other Brazilian boys who were reunited with their mothers at the end of June and beginning of July, after they were separated when they also arrived in the U.S. seeking asylum.
Meantime, a federal judge in San Diego had ordered all separated immigrant children under age 5 to be reunited with their parents by Tuesday, but the Trump administration met that deadline for only about a third of them.
More than 2,000 older children must be reunited with their parents by the end of the month, and the government does not appear to be on track to make that deadline either.
Before leaving for the NATO summit in Europe, Trump was asked about missing the first deadline, and he said he had a solution to the problem.
“Tell people not to come to our country illegally. That’s the solution. Don’t come to our country illegally. Come like other people do. Come legally,” he said. “I’m saying this very simply: We have laws. We have borders. Don’t come to our country illegally. It’s not a good thing.”
However, lawyers for the four Brazilian boys whose cases have been heard in Chicago said their clients tried to enter the country legally, but were illegally turned away by border guards.