Immigration attorney: Reuniting families separated at border not easy process

Posted: Updated:
WHITE PLAINS -

A federal judge has ruled that families forcibly separated at the border must be reunited, but a local immigration attorney says it's not as simple as it sounds.

Under the court order, federal officials can no longer separate parents from their children. If families were pulled apart, they must be reunited within 30 days, or 14 days if children are under the age of 5.

Around 700 children have been placed in housing facilities throughout New York, including four in Westchester.

White Plains immigration attorney Robin Bikkal says the ruling will bring families together, but adds that a judge must grant them asylum or they could be deported back to their native countries.

"Once you establish that an individual or family is fleeing from some type of persecution in their country, then they have the right to present an entire case, all the way to an immigration judge and beyond," she says.

Bikkal says families with legal representation have a better chance of staying in America legally, and she's committed to helping, once she can identify who the migrant children are in the Hudson Valley.

The Trump administration has warned that the court order will slow the reuniting process.

It's still unclear when the children will be back with their families.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Wednesday that allows immigrant parents to designate a "standby guardian" for their children if the parent is detained in New York or faces deportation.

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