Sioux Falls Immigrant’s Story of Border Separation

KELO Ramirez Family.jpg

Tensions are growing over the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy, letting border security agents separate the children of immigrants from their families.

President Trump will be on Capitol Hill today to meet with Republicans on possible immigration bills.

In the meantime, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is defending the practice.     

“Until these loopholes are closed by Congress it is not possible, As a matter of law, to detain and remove whole family units who arrive illegally in the United States. Congress and the Courts created this problem and Congress alone can fix it. Until then we will enforce every law we have on the books to defend the sovereignty and security of the United States,” said Nielsen. 

KELOLAND’s Claire Lavezzorio connected with a Sioux Falls man who has a personal connection to the issue.

CBS News reports 2,000 children have been separated from their parents within the past few weeks. 

While we’re more than 1,300 from the border-town of McAllen, Texas, this situation hits close to home for one local immigrant.

“I was separated from my mom for a long time. From the time I was three until I was 17 when I was able to come,” said Alex Ramirez. 

Fourteen years of separation. 

Ramirez spent those fourteen years in Mexico, while his Mom searched for a better life in the U.S. 

“And I didn’t have a father, so growing up was really bad not having a father and a mother,” Ramirez said.

Finally, Ramirez was reunited with his mother in Berkley, California, but their time apart, is still hard to swallow. 

“So is it a problem with the law, it is a problem with the participants in the system, is it a problem with the government, it’s hard to say,” said Attorney at Swier Law Taylor Hayes. 

Hayes says the muddled wording of the Flores Settlement set back in 1997 is still leaving that question unanswered. 

CBS News reports between May 6 and May 19, 638 adults were referred for prosecution at the border. Those adults brought with them a total of 658 children, all of whom were separated from their families. 

While Ramirez wasn’t detained as a child, he hopes his own story of separation builds compassion in the community. 

“And people really want to come here and work. They are not looking for any handouts, they want to come and work and make a better living for their families,” said Ramirez. 

To show Sioux Falls and all of South Dakota that your past, doesn’t define your present. 

“I want to be the person that they see and they feel comfortable with, so when they see another one, they don’t judge before they know them,” Ramirez said. 

CBS This Morning’s Gayle King will continue ground coverage from the detention center in McAllen, Texas where she’ll talk to separated families. 

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