Judge warns Trump administration to stick to deadline on family reunification

11 July, 2018, 03:17 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Trump admin releases names of children under 5 separated at border

Government lawyers stated in a court filing this week that the Trump administration had only reunited four children under the age of 5 with their families, out of the 102 separated from their parents at the U.S. -Mexico border in recent months.

This comes as the Trump administration appears set to fail in plans to reunite even half of children under 5 with their families before Tuesday's court-ordered deadline.

More than 2000 children were separated from their parents by US immigration authorities at the border this spring before US President Donald Trump reversed course on June 20 amid an worldwide outcry. "It's all confusing to them why there's so many people here and why there's so many strangers here, but they know that they're safe", Valdes said outside the ICE offices.

The Justice Department has asked for more time to reunite parents - or to be excused from reuniting those who are deemed unfit - but Sabraw did not rule on that request Monday.

The government was due to update the court in San Diego on Tuesday. The ACLU would like a faster reunification process while the USA government claims they are bound by strict protocols, such as a plan to DNA test every child and parent before a reunification can occur.

Among the other remaining question marks is whether authorities can streamline their vetting process for the migrant parents - which ACLU attorneys have described as needlessly cumbersome - and whether the government can pass along the locations migrant families will be released from custody, so that charity groups can more quickly offer them support.

The New York Times reported that U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw stuck to his Tuesday deadline for the youngest children to be returned to their parents, despite government officials indicating they'd be unable to meet the target.

The administration faces a second, bigger deadline - July 26 - to reunite perhaps 2,000 or so older children who were also separated from their families at the border in the past few months.

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Also Monday, a federal judge in California sharply rebuked the Justice Department for seeking a modification to a long-standing court settlement. One parent was suspected of child abuse; another was living in a household with another adult who had an outstanding warrant for criminal sexual abuse of a minor.

Most of the parents will be released into the USA from immigration detention centers, and the children will be freed from government-contracted shelters. The families will be released after they are reunited. But they say they have to do cheek swabs of the children and the parents to do DNA tests to establish parentage.

After announcing on June 20 that family separations would stop, the federal government said it will instead keep some families together in detention facilities.

In this June 25 photo, a mother migrating from Honduras holds her 1-year-old child while surrendering to U.S. Border Patrol agents after illegally crossing the border, near McAllen, Texas.

Abril Valdez of the ACLU of MI said the government was "vague" on the time and place of the reunifications that could come on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) for two Honduran men he represents.

Fabian attributed the holdup to difficulties tracking down some parents, and to necessary background checks on those whom they've found.

The hearing only covered the roughly 100 children under the age of 5 who were separated from their parents under the administration's "zero tolerance" border prosecution policy. According to government attorneys, nine have parents who have already been deported, while an additional nine have parents that have been released from government custody in the United States.

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