Chaos as parents, lawyers try to find separated children
Jodi Goodwin, a lawyer from Garlingen, Texas, told CNN on Friday that all 25 of her adult clients have children, but only two have been able to contact them by phone. However, those parents still don't know their children's location, she said.
"I've had clients that have been detained for two and a half weeks and they still don't know where their children are," she said.
The cautious relief that came after Trump's executive order has turned into widespread confusion among detained immigrant parents and their lawyers.
Distraught parents are searching for their children separated from them weeks ago, some as young as 9 months old. Some parents are trying to track them down from immigration detention, where resources and phone calls are limited.
Many of the at least 2,300 children separated from their migrant parents since May are in far-flung shelters and foster homes nationwide -- hundreds of miles away from the southern border.
The process of reuniting parents and children is so chaotic, even immigrant rights organizations and lawyers are frantically working through a maze of unknowns.
'It takes time. It's slow'
When children are separated at the border, they are designated as "unaccompanied alien children" and sent to facilities in states such as Michigan, New York and South Carolina. In the past, more than 100 shelters in 17 states have housed unaccompanied children.
In some cases, federal officials secretly sent the children to city facilities without notifying the local government, as was the case in New York City, making finding them even more complicated.
US officials are not doing much to help reunite families, according to lawyers and immigrants rights group. Trump's executive order does not address the uniting of families already separated -- and existing policies place the onus on parents to find their own children.
But that's a problem for detained parents.
Goodwin said her clients reported they were not given a phone number that immigrant parents are supposed to call if they want information about their children. Her clients who did contact their children got the phone number from another detainee, not somebody working for the detention center, Goodwin said.
"You would think that that information would be posted," she said. "They have told me it's not posted."
"It seems like just a very painful bureaucratic process taking place," said attorney Efrén Olivares of the Texas Civil Rights Project, which is helping reunite the families.
"It takes time. It's slow. It's not transparent. Even for the attorneys representing these parents," Olivares said, adding that of the 400 separated children his organization has tried to track down, only one has been reunited with a relative in the United States.
CNN visits a shelter
On Friday, federal authorities gave CNN reporter Dianne Gallagher a tour of the Homestead Temporary Shelter for "Unaccompanied Alien Children" in South Florida. She was not allowed to talk to the children or take photos inside.
The shelter, a vacant Job Corps site, has been open and holding minors since March. It houses 1,179 youth -- 792 males and 387 females -- aged 13-17 and is the second-largest shelter in the country. Most of these kids are from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras.
Children are separated by gender into groups of 12 per dorm room. They wear badges with bar codes on lanyards around their necks. CNN saw adult workers scanning them into each door they entered.
Most children were wearing clothes given to them by Health & Human Services. They get five days worth of clothing -- boys in various shades of blue, girls in pink and red, T-shirts and shorts for the most part.
They walked CNN through the "school" portion of the campus. Gallagher said it looked like a rundown elementary school with large cutouts of Disney princesses and Doc McStuffins on the walls. The students' artwork was displayed on walls, along with American civic posters describing the three branches of government, the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution.
Art is one of the classes on the schedule, as are math, reading, history, English as second language, physical education and "vocational classes."
There were large, banquet style folding tables and chairs, some mismatched, in most rooms. Gallagher did not see desks or computers -- but that doesn't mean they aren't there. This was a quick tour.
The schedule says the children wake up at 6:30 a.m. and lights go out at 10 p.m. Weekends have religious services and more free time.
Director Leslie Wood said fewer than 70 of the children were separated from their parents at the border due to Trump administration zero tolerance policy. Two days ago, HHS told US Sen. Bill Nelson and local reporters 94 children arrived because of zero tolerance. When asked about the disparity in numbers, Wood said they were reunited.
ICE: Parents decide if children return
Parents decide if they'll get deported with or without their children, Henry Lucero, a field office director for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told a roundtable of lawmakers in Weslaco, Texas.
Lucero said a parent in ICE custody is asked if they want to be repatriated with or without their children.
ICE says "a majority" of parents are opting to be deported without their child so the children can go through the immigration system, he said.
If the parent decides to have their child back, the consulate of their origin country will work with ICE to reunite the parents and children while they are still in the United States.
Ryan Patrick, US attorney for Southern District of Texas, said prosecutions for illegal entry are up 266% since zero tolerance went into effect.
Melissa Lopez helps reunite separated immigrant children with their parents, and she's been busy.
Lawyers have sent her organization several requests from distraught parents searching for their children after crossing the border through El Paso.
"They will send us a list and say, 'please check,' " said Lopez, who serves as the executive director of Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services in El Paso, Texas.
"It's been kind of crazy the level that it's been happening. Many of the attorneys, we send them information on one child and they're sending us two or three more requests right after that."
So far, they have reconnected between 20 to 30 families over the phone. As facilities reach capacity, children are increasingly being sent to other parts of the country, away from where their parents are detained, Lopez said. There's no easy system to match family members, she said, and phone calls are a crucial, immediate way to reconnect.
"The government provides absolutely no tools to these families to try and reunite them. They separate them and make no sort of effort or feel any sort of responsibility about making sure either party knows where the other is," Lopez said. "It definitely is challenging."
The Office of Refugee Resettlement provides parents with a hotline to call for details on a separated child, and says it will work across agencies to schedule regular phone communication.
"They (parents) have to hope that somebody reaches out to follow up. It's a really inhumane system," Lopez said.
A mother's anguish
Cindy Madrid had heard her daughter's voice in an anguished voice recording released by investigative news nonprofit ProPublica. In it, Alisson can be heard begging for someone to call her aunt as she recites the phone number she memorized during the 17-day journey from their native El Salvador to the US border.
"Imagine, all these days without knowing anything about my daughter, without talking to her, without seeing her. Without any information about anything," Madrid says.
On Friday, Jeff Eller, spokesperson for Southwest Key Programs, said the child heard in the ProPublica audio has communicated directly with her mother. Eller did not identify Madrid by name.
"We can confirm that the child has been assigned a case manager who, on the day she arrived at our shelter, began the process of safe reunification. On the first day, the child spoke to her aunt and has spoken to her since. The child was able to speak with her mother for 30 minutes yesterday. We are continuing to provide this child with excellent care and are advocating for safe reunification on her behalf, as well as continued communication with her mother and aunt."
Hope amid chaos
In Texas, one small shelter has found success reuniting young children with family members.
Three children placed at Catholic Charities Fort Worth were reunited with their relatives this week after getting separated at the border, said Heather Reynolds, the group's executive director.
The reunions provided a much-needed ray of optimism in an otherwise grim situation.
Catholic Charities is currently housing about a dozen children separated from their family members in the weeks after the administration's zero-tolerance policy took effect, Reynolds said. The policy to refer all adults for charges was publicly announced May 7, leading to thousands of child separations.
"They're hurting, they're worried, they're worried about mom and dad," she said. "We have seen an increase in crying, nightmares, things like that."
The children are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and are between ages 5 and 12. They go to a school on-site for half their day and focus on English and geography lessons.
"We spend a lot of time on geography, on the journey that they've been on and where they will be going to," Reynolds said.
So far, the administration has not provided details on how it plans to unite the children separated from their families.
"It is still very early and we are awaiting further guidance on the matter," said Brian Marriott, a families' division spokesman for the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Frustrated with the family separations, a California couple started a Facebook fundraising campaign to reunite children separated from their parents. They've raised $17 million so far, and plan to continue despite Trump's order, which ends the separation of families by detaining parents and children together.
Action in New York
New York City is devising a plan to team attorneys with each parent and child.
Once the city can determine who is in the foster care system, find out where children are and determine their needs, it will offer services, authorities said.
The city needs key information in order to arrange for lawyers to connect with detained parents.
"The federal government hasn't created a system that allows for there to be a clear path forward," said Bitta Mostofi, NYC's commissioner of Immigrant Affairs.
Children in New York separated from their parents due to the zero-tolerance policy are experiencing nightmares, disorientation and anxiety according to Mario Russell, lead attorney for Catholic Charities, which is legally representing some separated children. Russell said no children have begun the reunification process.
Tom Arnold says he has tapes of the President that have yet to be heard by the public
While appearing on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront," Arnold was asked by CNN's Poppy Harlow about his upcoming show for Viceland about President Donald Trump, which focuses on tapes.
"Do you have any tapes of the President that the public is not already aware of?" Harlow inquired.
Arnold replied simply: "Yes."
"If you see, for instance, one full day on the boardroom set of 'The Apprentice,' one full day, and you see how incompetent he was," Arnold went on to say.
Arnold, a longtime comedy actor and the ex-husband of controversial comedienne Rosanne Barr, is a former contestant on Trump's show "Celebrity Apprentice."
When asked by Harlow if the tapes he were referring to was unaired footage from Trump's NBC reality show "The Apprentice," Arnold said, "We have a lot of things."
Arnold is spearheading a Viceland show "The Hunt for the Trump Tapes" where the actor, who has been vocally critical of Trump, will be filmed trying to track down damaging tapes that are rumored to exist involving Trump. This week, according to Arnold's tweets, he met with Anthony Scaramucci, the hedge fund operator who briefly served as White House spokesman, and a Huffington Post journalist. Last month Arnold tweeted a photo of himself with Felix Sater, a Russian-American who partnered with Trump on real estate ventures.
On Thursday, Arnold posted on Twitter a photo of himself next to Michael Cohen, the President's longtime personal attorney, with the caption: "I love New York."
Cohen, who is under criminal investigation for his financial dealings, retweeted it without comment.
The Arnold photo and retweet set off a round of speculation about what it means for Cohen, who over the past week appeared to send signals that he is breaking his allegiance to Trump -- he criticized the administration's immigration policy -- and is considering cooperating with federal investigators potentially providing them information about Trump, friends and sources tell CNN.
Cohen has dubbed himself a "fixer" and worked for more than a decade with the Trump Organization, was involved in conversations during the campaign to brand a Trump Tower in Moscow, and facilitated payments to porn star Stormy Daniels to silence allegations of an alleged affair with Trump weeks before the election.
During the unusual back-and-forth between Harlow and Arnold on Friday evening, Arnold at one point looked into the camera and seemingly addressed Trump directly.
"I'm spending the weekend hanging out with Michael Cohen, and there's a lot going on," Arnold said. "So, ... you've disrespected him and his family and there's a lot going on."
Shortly after Arnold's interview, Cohen denied any plans to spend the weekend with him or discussing Trump.
"Appreciate @TomArnold kind words about me as a great father, husband and friend. This was a chance, public encounter in the hotel lobby where he asked for a selfie. Not spending the weekend together, did not discuss being on his show nor did we discuss @POTUS. #done #ridiculous," Cohen tweeted.
Trump admin says 500 families reunified, but thousands unaccounted for
In a statement Friday evening, an administration official said that as of Friday Customs and Border Protection "expects that all unaccompanied children in their custody who were separated from adults who were being prosecuted will have been reunited with their families."
But the role of CBP is largely one of a clearinghouse before transferring immigrants apprehended crossing the border illegally to other agencies for longer term processing -- meaning any children in their custody had likely been separated from their parents within the last 72 hours, the length of time dictated by law that CBP can hold an immigrant child not with their parents.
The lack of further details about the thousands of children who had already been transferred out of CBP custody from the administration shows the disjointed government handling of parents separated from children at the border.
On Friday night, HHS confirmed it is working on a plan, spearheaded by the agency's emergency response division, to help put back together families that have been separated by the administration's zero tolerance initiative.
"Secretary (Alex) Azar is bringing to bear all the relevant resources of the department in order to assist in the reunification or placement of unaccompanied alien children and teenagers with a parent or appropriate sponsor," said HHS spokeswoman Evelyn J. Stauffer in a statement. "The Secretary has tasked the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response with applying their operational and logistical expertise in addressing this complex effort. The Office of Refugee Resettlement continues to oversee and manage the Unaccompanied Alien Children Program."
More details on how the families would be unified were not immediately available.
As the children and parents were shuttled to separate government agencies under the effort, little planning appears to have gone into how they would be brought back together when the parents were finished with jail sentences for their criminal charges.
Now, case workers, lawyers and parents are scrambling to try to find their children through the maze of government bureaucracy and red tape surrounding their cases.
The government agencies caring for the parents and children have consistently declined to make clear exactly how many children are in the government's care as a direct result of the "zero tolerance" initiative begun last month to prosecute all adults for crossing the border illegally, thus separating those who have children while they face criminal charges. On Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said there were roughly 2,000.
A letter from Customs and Border Protection sent to congressional offices and obtained by CNN, said the 500 families figure was more than 15% of the total number of families that have been separated. By that math, the total number of separations would be more than 3,000.
"The administration continues to work to reunify prosecuted parents with their children," Customs and Border Protection congressional affairs staffer Pete Ladowicz in an email to congressional offices. "US Customs and Border Protection has unified approximately 500 children (over 15%) with their parents who had been referred for prosecution for illegal entry. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Health and Human Services are developing a process to be centered at ICE's Port Isabel Detention Center to continue unification efforts."
The administration has thus far only provided two overlapping figures for how many children have been affected.
From April 19 through the end of May, 1,995 children were separated due to the administration's zero tolerance policy, and 2,342 were separated from May 5 to June 9, according to Department of Homeland Security data. The policy to refer parents for prosecution was made public May 7 and the policy continued until Wednesday, when the President signed an executive order reversing course to keep families together despite any prosecutions.
It's not clear from this statement whether the reunified children were in HHS custody, as Customs and Border Protection hands children off to HHS and parents off to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement after they're finished being prosecuted. It's possible these were families that were only separated for the duration of the prosecution, and the children were never sent to HHS.
DHS did not answer follow-up questions.
When the prosecution policy went into effect, HHS became the natural place for the children separated from their parents, as under existing laws the agency cares for undocumented minors who enter the country illegally by themselves.
But to hand the children over, they were essentially redefined as unaccompanied migrant children -- subjecting them to the same HHS procedures as children who entered alone.
That meant that their cases, tracking information and the agency that was caring for them was completely separate from the organization caring for their parents -- and no planning appears to have gone into how the families would be reunited.
In recent days, ICE has been standing up its new reunification center -- but the agency has not answered questions about what, exactly, it would be responsible for there. Fact sheets on the DHS website implied it would be a place that parents could be connected with their children prior to being deported from the US.
Though criminal charges for the misdemeanor offense of crossing the border illegally take only a few days to resolve and the immigrants are usually only sentenced to time served, by the time parents emerged from Department of Justice custody, their children had already been sent to HHS shelters elsewhere in the country.
Parents and their representatives have been left struggling to find out where the children went, and because of secretive procedures protecting children in government custody due to privacy concerns, there is no straightforward way to look up a child in the system. Parents have been given hotline numbers to call that users describe as byzantine and hard to get through.
Also, once children are in HHS custody, procedures require that they be released to someone who qualifies as a "sponsor" under the agency's policies, which would almost certainly preclude an adult in DHS detention facilities, meaning parents can't be reunited until the government decides to release them or deport them.
Government agency procedures have mostly placed the onus on parents to track down their children. None of the agencies involved in the process have been designated as the central keeper of both parents' and children's data with the responsibility of putting them back together at the end.
The process to find one's child is "incredibly challenging, and what I fear is that it might, in some cases, be impossible," said Wendy Young, president of the advocacy and legal support organization Kids in Need of Defense and an immigration policy expert.
House Judiciary chairman subpoenas Peter Strzok to be deposed
Special counsel Robert Mueller removed Strzok from his team last summer after an internal investigation revealed Strzok had exchanged text messages with another FBI official disparaging President Donald Trump.
The deposition is set for Wednesday. Since it will not be public, it is not clear if it will be released at a later date.
It is also unclear why Goodlatte issued a subpoena, as Strzok's attorney had sent a letter to the committee saying Strzok would voluntarily testify before the committee or any other congressional committee that invites him.
"We regret that the Committee felt it necessary to issue a subpoena when we repeatedly informed them that Pete was willing to testify voluntarily," Strzok's attorney, Aitan Goelman, said in a statement Friday.
Last week, Strzok was escorted from the FBI building as part of the ongoing internal proceedings at the bureau on his conduct -- a dramatic fall for a special agent who used to serve as the No. 2 in the counterintelligence division.
Before joining Mueller's team, Stzrok was part of the FBI team investigating connections between Trump campaign associates and Russia.
While he is still technically employed at the FBI, his future there remains uncertain in the wake of a report by the Justice Department Inspector General's Office. Inspector General Michael Horowitz has said he could not conclude that Strzok's decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over the Hillary Clinton email probe in the fall of 2016 was "free from bias."
Yet Stzrok told Justice Department investigators that had he actually wanted to prevent Trump from being elected, he would not have maintained confidentiality about the investigation into contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians in the months before the election.
Judge sends Paul Manafort to jail, pending trial
Two weeks after special counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors dropped new accusations of witness tampering on him, US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Friday revoked Manafort's bail, which had allowed him to live in his Alexandria, Virginia, apartment under house arrest.
The order marked an end to almost eight months of attempts by Manafort to lighten his house arrest restrictions after he was charged and pleaded not guilty to foreign lobbying violations.
"The harm in this case is harm to the administration of justice and harm to the integrity of the court's system," Berman Jackson told Manafort in court.
The judge emphasized to Manafort how she could not make enough rulings to keep him from speaking improperly with witnesses, after he had used multiple text messaging apps and called a potential witness on an Italian cellphone.
"This is not middle school. I can't take his cellphone," she said of Manafort. "I thought about this long and hard, Mr. Manafort. I have no appetite for this."
Manafort also entered a not guilty plea to two additional charges levied against him last week, of witness tampering and conspiracy to obstruct justice. In total, he faces seven criminal charges in DC federal court.
Three US marshals led Manafort out of the packed courtroom into the prisoner holding area immediately after the judge's ruling. He was not placed in handcuffs. Before he disappeared through the door, he turned toward his wife and supporters and gave a stilted wave.
Minutes later, a marshal returned to give Manafort's wife, Kathleen, still standing in the courtroom's front row, his wallet, belt and the burgundy tie he wore Friday.
Court marshals held Manafort in the bowels of the courthouse for several hours following the hearing as they considered how to keep him protected from other inmates behind bars. He arrived about 8 p.m. at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, 90 miles south of Washington.
In a tweet, President Donald Trump said the decision to revoke Manafort's bail was "tough," although he referred to it as a "sentence."
"Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns. Didn't know Manafort was the head of the Mob. What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all of the others? Very unfair!"
In her wind-up to her order, Berman Jackson also gave a brief nod to the bitter environment around the case:
"This hearing is not about politics, is not about conduct of the office of the special counsel."
'Danger to the community'
When Manafort was first arraigned and pleaded not guilty in October, a magistrate judge set a $10 million bail price and placed him under house arrest, confiscating his passports. Manafort then attempted to find assets of his own and through real estate and family members' accounts. In December, the judge signed off on his plan -- provided he could supply the correct documentation. It didn't come through, according to the court filings.
Prosecutors have argued all along that the jet-setting political consultant was a significant flight risk. As the process to negotiate his bail dragged on, prosecutors discovered possible mortgage fraud related to some of the properties he hoped to use as bail. That's when they finalized additional federal criminal charges against him in Virginia.
In the past month, Manafort finally came up with a plan to post some of his own and others' properties for his bail. The prosecutors appeared to agree with the plan, according to court filings.
Then, last week, Mueller's team alleged they found evidence Manafort had tried to coach potential witnesses.
On Friday, they told the judge Manafort was a "danger to the community" and that he had committed a crime while out on release: obstruction of justice.
Prosecutor Greg Andres described the following scene to the court from February 24, a day after Manafort's co-defendant, his longtime deputy Rick Gates, flipped:
A man was driving with his wife through rural Italy when his phone rang. Manafort identified himself to the man, Alan Friedman, a public relations consultant he once worked with.
"I need to give you a heads up about Hapsburg," Manafort told him three times. "Have you seen any article about Hapsburg?"
Manafort was referring to a project he and Friedman had worked on years ago to bring influential Europeans to the US to push pro-Ukrainian politics while the group posed as independent experts. The project, dubbed the Hapsburg group, was among Manafort's efforts to skirt foreign lobbying laws, prosecutors allege.
Friedman turned down the radio as Manafort spoke, Andres said, then hung up the phone a minute and a half into the call. Manafort tried several more times to reach him in the following days.
Andres said prosecutors now know Manafort used multiple ways to communicate with former colleagues like Friedman and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Moscow-based associate who's also charged in the alleged witness tampering: In addition to phone calls and half a dozen encrypted messaging apps, Manafort uses a system with email called "foldering," where multiple people have access to an account and write messages to one another as drafts,but the emails are never sent.
"This was a sustained campaign over a five-week period to use multiple numbers, applications and people," Andres said in court about the witness tampering allegations.
Manafort's lawyer Richard Westling argued that Manafort had no way to know Friedman would be a witness in the case. Westling asked the judge to simply issue a more specific order for Manafort to follow while out on bail.
"This will not happen again," Westling said.
But the witness tampering allegations, which also resulted in new criminal charges, were enough Friday for Manafort to lose his house arrest privileges.
He faces another 18 criminal charges for financial fraud and false reporting allegations in Virginia federal court. That case is set to go to trial earlier than the DC case, with a late July start date.
His DC trial is set to begin in September, meaning he could spend the next three or more months imprisoned.
Manafort has maintained his innocence and vowed to fight the charges since he was indicted alongside Gates in late October. Gates has since changed his plea to guilty and agreed to help prosecutors, because of the significant cost of his legal fees and attention bearing down on him and his family. Another associate of Manafort's, Kilimnik, was charged with witness tampering and has not yet appeared in court.
Prosecutors haven't tied Manafort, Gates and Kilimnik's alleged wrongdoings to the actions of the Trump campaign, which is at the core of Mueller's investigation. However, prosecutors have said in several previous court filings that they are looking into Manafort's contacts with Russians and Ukrainians -- including Kilimnik -- and possible coordination he may have orchestrated with them while he oversaw the campaign.
Manafort had spent his days since October stuck in his apartment under court order. He could leave only for legal meetings, medical needs and religious observances. The judge had allowed him to travel a few times for special exceptions, such as to his father-in-law's funeral on Long Island and his grandson's baptism in Virginia.
He wore ankle bracelets that tracked his movements through GPS technology, one on each leg.
Leading up to Friday's hearing, Manafort was optimistic he would avoid jail, according to a source familiar with the situation, but he and his legal team expected Mueller's team to be as aggressive as possible.
His friends were "shellshocked" in the wake of the judge's decision Friday, the source said.
Manafort's new confines create another hurdle in his trial preparations and will make it more difficult for him to confer with his counsel and prepare his defense.
CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to clarify whose baptism Manafort was permitted to attend. It was his grandson's.