Where are the children? One family’s experience at the US-Mexico border

ABC looks at the Trump administration’s "zero tolerance" policy amid reports that hundreds of migrant children remain separated from their parents after officials took them into custody at the border.
7:39 | 10/28/20

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Transcript for Where are the children? One family’s experience at the US-Mexico border
They were the searing images igniting outrage across the country. Migrant children separated from their parents at the southern border. Now an explosive new report on the trump administration's zero tolerance policy making this election issue. Lawyers say they can't find the parents of 545. Migrant children still living with sponsor fame which in the US. Tonight what's become of those Stanley separated and reunite. As Clinton controlled makes his closing argument on why he deserves four more years. One of the darkest chapters of his presidency child separation is coming back to haunt him. Keep it on the debate stage so how he Stanley's ever be reunited. Children are brought here. I coyotes and lots of they had people. Vice president Joseph Biden firing back with the counterpoint. Coyotes didn't bring him over their parents. Were with them. They got separated from their parents. And according to the ACLU. The battle over child separation is for claim over. We now believe that there were close to 5500 families separated what this administration gave. Taking little babies toddlers but even teenagers. Away from their parents in a strange country not telling the parent. Where they were taking the job. Enforcement is poured the trump administration's zero tolerance policy. A Department of Homeland Security. Is now referring 100%. I'm via Lago staff rants border crossings to Department of Justice or prosecution. The planned touted by then attorney general Jeff Sessions. A deterrent the administration hoped would make people think twice about crossing the border illegally in you know. Walk your child to be separated. And are buying them across the border illegally and one of those kids. A Brazilian asylum seeker named James who was just fourteen years old at the time he was separated from his mother. You remember the moment. They took viewers were mom. As I remember. Me was a was more lake I was really. They talked batted I have no reaction. Like no fan Ambon and at the analysts is. Lake are lies. The policy became more widespread. Immigration rights group started sounding the alarm. White House officials like former Homeland Security secretary cures to Nielsen forced to answer questions. If that parent has a four year old child what you plan on doing at that time the child under long goes to HHS her care in custody they will be separated from their parents just like Mike and I the United States every day. Amid the growing backlash the president at one point blaming Democrats that Democrats gave us that law so horrible thing we have to break up. Lawmakers and immigration rights activists said that just wasn't true parents and kids left stunned and confused. So you they take you weigh in at that moment do you know what's happening due to understand. No I didn't that in knowing and theme because they just stages of neo AM we can understand anything was. Because they then though the Ling was. Even the president's own white denounced child separation when I sat down with her in Kenya you know he was under your your husband policy is zero tolerance policy. That these families were separated that force is just so we're really disagreed with him. Yes and then let you know. I didn't know that that policy will come out was blind sided by it. Until team at home and I sent to keen that's I feel that's unacceptable. And he he found the scene. But last month in leaked audiotapes to see an end by the first lady's former advisor. Maloney a trump is heard discussing her visit to the border at the height of the scandal. Old ski event next Taylor. To experience this there's because dealer. Dropped it's true to cut ulee's keys they say it out. So sad yeah but they have eighty. Yeah alone can't tease. On the White House web site the force lady reacted to the leaked audiotapes in a statement seen her words were taken out of context. The president eventually surrendered on child separation signing an executive order ending it. But now more than two years later. The ACLU says they have been unable to reach the parents of more than 500 migrant children taken from their families at the border before June of 2018. We are still looking for hundreds and hundreds of families. Where the parent was deport without the child both the department of homeland security and the White House refuting accusations. It's very sad the administration wants the families appear the united. But for various reasons. The damaged if not acceptance to children backing him in many of these cases. The ACLU challenges that explanation saying quote. We have not even found these 545. Parents so neither we nor certainly the administration can know whether they want to be reunited. Or stop you you've had practice of separating children from their parents. Work to reunited tubes and all of his Ian. Former vice president Joseph Biden is making sure voters don't forget about child separation especially Latino voters. Restore sensible enforcement cards and stop terrorizing Latino communities. One group full we both candidates but unable to vote the families who were still here and caught in the middle of the child separation legal battle. We were there in 2018. And James was reunited with his mother jostling after nine wants. The mother and son had to flee their native Brazil because Jocelyn says she was being abused by her hosted. She says when they were crossing the border. Her son was taken away by immigration officials. He would end up more than a thousand miles away in a facility Chicago. Not welcome on limited it was horrible. So painful for me as a mother because they didn't know what was going to happen jostling would take refugee shelter near El Paso, Texas. She waited to hear about her asylum claim. We spoke to her at the border. She just started her legal battle to get her son back Sally in the wallet I Esther dead if known would happen to her son which still have crossed the border. FO agreement it's horrible there and horrible here for so many parents like Jocelyn they feel they have no choice. We recently caught up within to see how their life has been going. In and at alliance. I think that despite everything that happens. It was an experience for us but I still think things can be thinks I don't think only time things are to come. How was your life right now in the US it's going gray they can and doing like really great. It's it's mean like really good sense slate was stern in their own school in. And starting makes those socializing with people and and learning a different culture and. Now mother and son are living in Massachusetts. Jocelyn tells me she doesn't focus on the past. And has hope they can both stay here together William and took him. I think. A person can live happily. Thinking in the past and what happened because. It was so painful. And it was horrible. That now which together and a good thing client and I hope we stay that way.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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