WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- An estimated 50 undocumented immigrant parents have been detained and held in the Aurora ICE facility after being separated from their children at the border, according to the Rocky Mountain Immigration Advocacy Network, a nonprofit based in Westminster.
Ashley Harrington knows this story well. As an attorney, she's worked with families fleeing Central America seeking asylum here in the U.S. for years.
“So they’re living through incredible trauma in their home countries and there is a reason they are fleeing there,” said Harrington. "Facing real credible death threats every day, where they can all speak about family or classmates that have been murdered. Some in front of them."
Under the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy, that trauma has intensified at the border.
So now, she and her colleagues at the Rocky Mountain Immigration Advocacy Network are trying to help the dozens of detained undocumented parents find legal representation, with the hope of bonding out and starting the process of reuniting with their families and apply for asylum status.
"One of my colleagues clients still has no idea where her 6-year-old son is and is devastated," said Harrington.
Similar stories are coming from Casa de Paz, a nonprofit that offers housing, meals and transportation to families torn apart at the border, according to their website.
The executive director of Casa de Paz told Denver7 on Thursday they housed a recently released detainee from the Aurora ICE facility, that had escaped from Central America seeking asylum. As of Thursday night, the woman was trying to reunite with her child still housed in Texas, after they were separated at the border. She canceled a phone interview with Denver7, fearing speaking out would negatively impact her current case.
The Associated Press reported Thursday night 500 children had been reunited with their parents. While a signature on an executive order is meant to stop the separation at the border, it’s not clear what will happen to the families already yanked apart.
"We have no idea what the process will be like for these approximately 50 parents that are sitting in the Aurora Ice Detention facility; how if, when they will be able to reunify with their children," said Harrington.
One thing Harrington said is for sure: "Just because they're reunified doesn't mean that the trauma will go away."