U.S. will reunite and release over 50 immigrant children
Jul 12 2018
"It's extremely disappointing that the Trump administration looks like it will fail to reunite even half the children under 5 with their parent", ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said in a statement.
The Trump administration was working on final background checks for another five children ahead of Tuesday's deadline.
1 child can not be reunified at this time because the parent's location has been unknown for more than a year.
The original suit sought to reunite a migrant mother and her daughter who had fled violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and were separated at the southern border.
It was the largest single effort to date to undo one effect of President Donald Trump's zero-tolerance policy - separating families who try to slip across the Mexican border into the country.
The U.S. Health and Human Services patted themselves on the back, despite their failure to reunite the 102 young children by the deadline.
Children were increasingly separated from their parents after Attorney General Jeff Sessionsannounced in May that a zero-tolerance policy on illegally entering the country was in full effect.
The Trump administration said it identified about 100 children under age 5 who were likely separated from their parents at the border, but as of Tuesday said some could not yet be reunited, in part due to an intensive screening process typically used for minors who come to the USA alone before they are released to sponsors. "The July 26 deadline might make sense in other circumstances, but not this one".
Immigrant parents who reveled after joyful reunions with their young children spoke Wednesday of the traumatic impact of being separated from their sons and daughters for months after they were taken from them at the USA border.
Now the family detention system is at capacity - as are a network of about 100 shelters for migrant minors who traveled into the USA without parents or a guardian and who now wait anywhere from a few weeks to years to have their cases resolved in the immigration courts.
US District Judge Dolly Gee said the government had failed to present new evidence to support revising a court order that limits the detention of children who crossed the border illegally.
One of them might be a child of a USA citizen, the Justice Department acknowledged Tuesday when it notified a federal judge about the progress being made to complete more than 100 reunions.
Devin O'Malley, a Justice Department spokesman, said the department disagreed with Gee's Monday ruling and continued to review it.
Without separations, or family detention, the government has few options besides allowing families to pursue their immigration claims "at liberty" as prior administrations had generally done. The Trump administration is trying to line up thousands more beds at military bases.
Some attorneys and advocates prepared for Tuesday's (Wednesday NZT) reunions with little information.
Noting that the Trump administration manufactured this disastrous situation with its inhumane policies in the first place, the ACLU vowed to keep up the pressure until all families separated by the White House's cruel policies are unified.
"This is hard, very hard", she said.
The government said 22 young children were deemed ineligible for reunification "due to safety concerns posed by the adults in question". Their three-year-old sons were in temporary foster care in Grand Rapids while they were in a jail in Battle Creek. 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". Children under 5 were ordered to be reunited by July 10.