|9-Year-Old Boy Released from Government Custody and Returned to Family After Separation|
|January 28, 2021|
In January 2021, a 9-year-old boy was held in government custody for about nine days after being separated from his older brother while trying to enter the U.S. The 9-year-old, Vladimir Fardin, landed with his 19-year-old brother at San Francisco International Airport on January 17, 2021. After taking away their visas, U.S. immigration officers deported the 19-year-old to Haiti and put Vladimir into the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
Attorneys from Van Der Hout, LLP fought for Vladimir’s release and return to his family. The government claimed that they had to hold him in custody for 14 days to quarantine before he could be released. Attorneys Marc Van Der Hout and Johnny Sinodis considered this an absurd policy, since Vladimir was not intending to stay in the United States.
As Marc Van Der Hout stated, “This is a 9-year-old kid who has never been alone a day in his life who is suffering tremendously… We just want to get him home to his mother. He is going through a lot in custody.” Vladimir was released and returned to his family in Haiti about nine days after having been initially put into government custody.
According to child psychologist Amy Cohen, Vladimir had experienced “anxiety and distress” while separated from his family. This can “negatively impact a child’s brain development, as well as their immune and cardiological systems.” She also noted that not every child is released as quickly as Vladimir was. “This is a child who has two excellent private attorneys and the director of a national nonprofit advocating on his behalf,” Cohen said. “Now think of all the children in the custody of ORR who don’t have that kind of advocacy and are not able to get out of these institutions.
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