Feds say they will release, reunite 50 immigrant children

10 July, 2018, 12:46 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Christian from Honduras recounts his separation from his child at the border during a news conference at the Annunciation House,in El Paso Texas

Only about half the children under age five who were separated from their parents at the USA border will be reunited with their families by Tuesday's court-ordered deadline.

The ACLU, which launched the lawsuit that saw the Trump administration ordered to reunite all children separated from their families under its "zero tolerance" policy, said the administration looks set to fail to reunite even half of children under 5 with their parents.

Of the almost 3,000 migrant minors who were separated from their parents and placed in federal custody, the Trump administration says at least 102 are under 5 years old.

The hearing followed a feverish weekend of talks between the administration and the ACLU after the judge refused on Friday to grant a blanket extension to the deadline, saying instead that he would only consider certain exceptions.

But The New York Times reported late last week that, under pressure to reunite the families, authorities were struggling to connect them after records linking children to their parents disappeared and in some cases were destroyed, although not as part of a deliberate attempt to obfuscate.

The case includes a broader group of thousands of other children and parents, but the hearing focused largely on the pressing deadline for the children under 5.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores had no comment on the discrepancies in the numbers.

If DNA testing is inconclusive, officials said in a court filing, they won't be able to confirm a child's parentage by the deadline. One child's status is unknown because the government lacks information about the parent, Fabian said.

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President Donald Trump signed an executive order on June 20 that he claimed would end family separation, but weeks later, as many as 3,000 children remained away from their parents. Others are still going through the backgrounding process to ensure they are the children's parents and fit to take custody of them.

Sabraw had ordered the government to return all children 4 and younger to their parents by Tuesday.

I have seen prior reunifications and it is heartbreaking to see the parents and child come together.

Ms. Fabian said even more than the 54 could be released depending on whether Judge Sabraw orders the government to short-circuit its usual checks it makes before releasing children to sponsors in the U.S. "I'm optimistic that many of these families will be reunited tomorrow, and that we'll have a very clear understanding as to who has not been reunited, why not, and what timeframe will be in place".

Mr. Gelernt, what did the court decide today about these children under five, who should be reunited with their families?

Children separated from their parents, some as young as 1 year old, are appearing in USA immigration court. Attorneys for the children and the Department of Justice are working with the court to reunite the remaining children - many of their parents have been deported or released from custody in the United States - as quickly as possible. She said Monday that they may have been incorrectly marked as deported.

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project and the lead lawyer who argued for the preliminary injunction, said in a July 8 press release that the request for more time was unacceptable given the levels of trauma the children have already been subjected to.

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