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Migrant children brought to New York remain separated from parents, attorneys say

Honduran man seeking asylum is fighting for his wife and youngest daughters.

Michael Avenatti, left, and Ricardo de Anda, center,

Michael Avenatti, left, and Ricardo de Anda, center, attorneys for an immigrant father from Honduras whose wife and children are being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, speak Wednesday during a press conference in front of the Cayuga Centers, where two of their client's daughters were taken. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Attorneys for a Honduran man seeking asylum said on Wednesday he is forced to fight for his family after his wife — who arrived in the U.S. a few months after him — was detained and separated from the couple’s young daughters.

The man, identified by the immigrant rights group New Sanctuary Coalition as Hector Santos, came to the U.S. with his 14-year-old daughter in January, and their asylum petitions were processed, said one of his attorneys, Michael Avenatti. He added Santos is currently outfitted with an ankle monitor and was not permitted by federal immigration authorities to come to New York.

His wife, Denise, and their two youngest daughters, 5 and 9 years old, followed in June, according to the group. Denise was detained in Texas, the group said, and the girls were taken to New York, where they remain.

“Until about a week ago, until we were retained, they refused to tell Hector where his daughters were even located in the United States,” Avenatti said, adding: “They were facing a direct threat to this family, they feared for their lives [in Honduras] . . . They decided to go separately for the safety of the children.”

Santos’ other attorney, Ricardo de Anda, said they wouldn’t rest until his wife was out of detention and reunited with their children.

It wasn’t immediately clear where Santos or his wife crossed the border. A representative for ICE did not respond to a request for comment.

Avenatti said their two youngest daughters are being held at the Cayuga Centers, where more than 300 separated children have been cared for since the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy was put in place.

On June 20, President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at ending the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border, but according to reports, the administration missed the deadline for reuniting all separated children under the age of 5. The administration has to reunite all separated children before the end of the month.

“We, as the faith community, are taking a stand against this administration, against the agencies,” said Ravi Ragbir, the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition who himself was detained, sparking several protests. “And we have been calling [to]abolish ICE for many months.”

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