Trump administration to ask for more time to reunite immigrant families

Cheryl Sanders
July 10, 2018

The American Civil Liberties Union said it appears the Trump administration will miss a court-ordered deadline to reunite young children who were separated at the border with their parents in more than half of the cases.

"I am very encouraged about the progress", Sabraw said on Monday, according to the newspaper.

The hearing Monday focused primarily on the status of the youngest children, and did not include details on whether the government would be able to meet the deadline for reuniting the older children with their parents later this month. Parents already released into the USA should be reunited with their children within 48 hours of the government contacting them, or within a week for parents already deported, he suggested. One area of disagreement is DNA testing on parents and children, with the government saying it should be the general rule and the ACLU saying it should be done only when no other evidence is available to prove parentage.

The ACLU says they will not be seeking sanctions for the government not meeting the deadline, telling ABC News in a statement, "At this point, we think the most constructive way forward is that the Court continue to stay hands-on and keep the government moving forward". "ICE will assume custody and then release the parent and children together", she said.

Sabraw gave the government until July 10 to reunite children under age 5 with their parents, and until July 26 to put all of the families back together. For children, the trauma of being separated from their parents will be long-lasting. But, the lawyer says he's disappointed that not all children will see their parents.


The hearing also barely touched on the more than 2,000 children still in government custody who will need to be reunited in coming weeks.

As the family separation process got underway, the obstacles that the government was setting up for itself became evident.

So far, two children under 5 years old have been returned to their families.

Federal officials have said somewhere "under 3,000" migrant children have been separated overall, but their numbers have varied.

The two sides revealed in a filing late Monday that they are far apart on protocols for reunification, with the government arguing its practices are necessary under federal law to ensure child safety and the ACLU contending that many are too cumbersome under the circumstances. As for the rest, she claimed, three were brought by someone who is not their biological parent, three have parents with serious criminal records that bar reunification, five have parents with something on their record that requires further investigation, 12 have parents either in local or federal criminal detention who must serve time before being transferred to ICE, 18 have parents who were lost by the administration after their deportation or release into the USA, and four have been approved for release to a non-parent sponsor.


We are going to propose within 48 hours of contacting a parent who is in the USA, and within one week of contacting a parent who's already been removed to another country. Reporters on the ground have reported that there seemed to be no plan to track where different parts of families were being sent so that they could eventually be reunited.

54 will be reunified by Tuesday; their parents are still in government custody and will be released with their children.

"The kids are all over the country", said ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt.

"They're working nights and weekends to comply with the judge's orders".


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