Trump administration reunites 57 immigrant children with parents after missing court deadline
Jul 13 2018
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"It's extremely disappointing that the Trump administration looks like it will fail to reunite even half the children under 5 with their parents".
As for most of the rest of the under-5 children who have yet to reunited with their families, Fabian said that their parents have already been released into the USA, have been deported, or are behind bars on criminal charges.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the parents in a class-action lawsuit, said US officials "have not even tried" to return 12 children to parents who were deported, and said officials should have more quickly found eight parents who have been released in the United States. Before the parent-child separations became widespread, the government operated three family detention centers with bed space of about 3,300.
Their departments were responsible for the reunifications after the administration chose to separate the children from their families under President Donald Trump's hardline "zero tolerance" immigration crackdown.
CNN has reached out to the agencies to ascertain why only 57 children were reported reunified as of Thursday morning when the judge ordered 63.
"These are firm deadlines, not aspirational goals", Sabraw said Tuesday, adding that he would want a full explanation later in the week for eligible families who were not reunited.
Government officials told reporters that 46 children were not returned to their parents for legitimate reasons already recognized by the court, including 22 children who face "safety concerns" posed by the adults with whom they had been traveling.
ACLU lawyers have protested that federal officials were taking too long to find the parents who were deported and dragging out the vetting process of parents still in the United States by requiring home checks or DNA testing for adults who were clearly the children's parents.
Sabraw approved on Tuesday the ACLU's suggested legal notice that will be provided to immigrant parents, which explains they have a right to be reunited and remain in the country to pursue asylum.
When asked on Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services referred to figures released a day earlier, when officials said four children were reunited and at least 34 more would be by the end of the day.
Earlier this week officials said at least one of the children in their custody might be a USA citizen. As for the 64 children who remain in custody, the administration provided a list of excuses that includes reasons behind the failure to reunify 64 of the children, such as eight "parents had serious criminal history" or one "parent detained in ICE custody is now being treated for a communicable disease". The Department of Health and Human Services, which has custody of the minors, and the Department of Homeland Security, which has custody of most of the adults, said in joint statements that they reunited 57 children with their parents. That process led to delays since tests generally take a week, but Meekins said the mere act of swabbing the cheeks of two alleged parents to collect their DNA got them to admit they were not the child's parents.
"They're not going to generally take that child back with them after they've accomplished their smuggling", Albence said on the call with reporters.
In a statement, the ACLU criticized the government's failure to meet the July 10 deadline, and said it was deciding what remedies Sabraw should impose.
"Unfortunately we don't have additional info yet", Gelernt said.
On Tuesday, with the court-mandated deadline looming, the government responded. Another dozen cases saw the adult accompanying the child deported before reunification could occur, while other adults remained jailed for other offenses.
Leon Fresco, a former senior Justice Department immigration lawyer, said putting ankle bracelets on migrants is a return to what the Trump administration itself has described as catch and release; ending its practice was a top priority of the labour union that represents Border Patrol agents and endorsed Trump's candidacy.