Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Trump Administration Will Miss Deadline to Reunite All Migrant Children Under 5

Trump Administration Will Miss Deadline to Reunite All Migrant Children Under 5

The children were taken from their parents under President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which called for the prosecution and detention of adult immigrants crossing the border without authorization.

One there is no information on the parent.

We are thrilled that more than 50 little children will be reunited with their parents by tomorrow, but we are extremely disappointed that it's not a greater number.

Now the family detention system is at capacity - as are a network of about 100 shelters for migrant minors who traveled into the US 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.

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.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, in response to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit, set a July 10 deadline to reunite the families and refused to provide additional time for the government to use DNA testing to determine if the people in question are even the 102 identified children's parents. 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. The Trump administration had asked for the court's permission to have ICE keep those families in detention until their cases were adjudicated - a process that typically takes months and would have gone against previously established terms of the settlement.

The ACLU is seeking clear deadlines to reunite the different groups of remaining children, though the judge deferred deciding on that until Tuesday, at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the administration faces a second, bigger deadline - July 26 - to reunite thousands of older children who were also separated from their families at the border in the past few months.

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And if they continue to drag on, what would you ask the judge to do in that instance?

For almost one month Perez knew nothing about her children - "the longest, most torturous time of my life", she said.

One child has not been matched with a parent, Fabian said.

The Legal Aid Society in NY said it is representing at least two separated children under 5 years old that meet the judge's criteria for reunification on Tuesday.

"The goal of the [Trafficking Victims Protection Act ] is to promote the best interests of the child and to reunite families", the ACLU had argued.

Other areas of disagreement include whether fingerprint checks should be run on other adult members of the household and parent participation a legal orientation program should be required before release.

Federal officials said they are reunifying as many children as they can and attributed delays to "legitimate logistical impediments" that make it "impossible or excusable" to meet the court's deadlines. Eight other parents had serious criminal histories and the government found evidence of child abuse by another, according to the filing.

Lee Gelernt, the ACLU lawyer handling the case, said the government is taking the reunification demands seriously, though he said he thinks the government can do better than the 54. "We just don't know how much effort the government's made to find" the parents.

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