Trump Administration Will Not Meet Deadline for Reuniting Young Children
12 July, 2018, 19:01 | Author: Wade Massey
Dozens of immigrant children under the age of 5 will be released from government custody and reunited with their parents Tuesday after being separated at the border under President Donald Trump's zero-tolerance immigration policy. The father said he was still shaken by the ordeal he had to go through just to speak to his boy while he was in government custody. The father and son cried throughout the reunification meeting as he pet his son's hair.
Numerous separated children are fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen met with diplomats from those countries in Guatemala on Tuesday to discuss U.S. immigration policies. Authorities gave few details on where the reunions would be held, and many were expected to take place in private.
In Grand Rapids, the children were "absolutely thrilled to be with their parents again".
Trump said Tuesday that he has a solution to the missed deadline: "Tell people not to come to our country illegally".
Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit, said activists have turned up as many as 10 more names that need to added to the number of separated kids still in detention.
"Trying to find out", said Lee Gelernt, an ACLU attorney, wrote in an email. She said doubted that the judge would approve of the administration enacting it by convincing parents to sign away their children's right to release. The parents will be free while their cases wind through immigration court, which can take years, and may be required to wear ankle monitors. Karen Tumlin, director of legal strategy at the National Immigration Law Center, said she interpreted Judge Dolly Gee's order on Monday as a rejection of large-scale family detention.
On June 26, Sabraw set deadlines of Tuesday to reunite children under 5 with their families and July 26 for older children. Thirty children will not be reunited by Tuesday, for a range of reasons. He stated, "These are firm deadlines".
"That is going to be a significant undertaking", U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw said on Tuesday of the next deadline.
"T$3 he court does appear to acknowledge that parents who cross the border will not be released and must choose between remaining in family custody with their children pending immigration proceedings or requesting separation from their children so the child may be placed with a sponsor", he said. Of that group, they said, 34 parents had undergone and passed criminal background checks and DNA verification.
"Our process may not be as quick as some would like, but there is no question it is protecting children", said Chris Meekins, a Health and Human Services Department official helping to direct the process.
The government last week asked for more time to complete the reunification because it claimed it needed more time to ensure the children's safety and to confirm their parental relationships.
Catholic Charities, which helped place some of the children in shelter facilities after their separation, held a news briefing in NY at which a handful of the reunited parents expressed relief after weeks of anxiety over the separations.
Critics said the administration failed to track the separated families, making it hard to reunite them. Immigration attorneys say they already are seeing barriers to those reunifications from a backlog in the processing of fingerprinting of parents to families unable to afford the airfare to fly the child to them - which could run as high as $1,000.
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