Dozens of immigrant children will be reunited with parents

Leroy Wright
July 11, 2018

The Justice Department says it will reunite only about half of the more than 100 migrant children under 5 today, after a federal judge in San Diego agreed to extend the deadline mandating the reunification of all of the youngest children. The order provided the administration with 15 days to reunite children under the age of 5 and 30 days to reunite all others.

As the government awaits the court's Monday decision on whether or not the timeline for family reunification will be extended, time is of the essence: doctors have repeatedly warned that being separated from parents for even short periods of time can cause symptoms of toxic stress in children, which can derail healthy emotional development.

He ordered both sides back in court on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) to give another update and for him rule on differences over protocols to follow when reuniting the remaining children.

Rodriguez said the commander running the shelter at Tornillo told him that none of the children there would be housed at Fort Bliss, one of two Texas military bases that the Pentagon has said will likely house thousands of immigrants who have been apprehended at the border.

"But it is also stalling by insisting on sticking to status quo agency procedures in the face of extraordinarily unique circumstances". Those "impediments" included deportation of a parent or "safety and suitability screenings" that were ongoing.

In Grand Rapids, the children were "absolutely thrilled to be with their parents again".

The filing noted 13 others now deemed ineligible for reunification, for reasons ranging from parents now in the custody of other criminal justice agencies to a parent who is being treated for a communicable disease, and one who lives in a home with another adult who has a criminal background.

Some lawyers representing the separated children, who have been scattered into foster systems across the country, said the government was not telling them what would happen to their young clients.

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"Records show the parent and child might be US citizens", lawyers for the government wrote in the filing. So U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents could soon be presenting detained parents with a choice: Waive your child's right to release and be detained indefinitely as a family, or exercise your child's right to release - and be separated from your child once more.

Parents were taken into criminal custody and then held in immigration detention centers, deported or released in the United States. "They want to punish these families who are here and deter others from coming".

Fabian attributed the holdup to difficulties tracking down some parents, and to necessary background checks on those whom they've found. Two others were proven to not be the parents when DNA tests were completed.

ACLU lawyers took issue with the remaining 16.

Staff members at a nonprofit organization that has been housing numerous youngest children 'made sure every backpack was full and every child got a hug and a goodbye, ' Southwest Key CEO Juan Sanchez said.

"Let me put it this way: I think the government in the last 48 hours ... has taken significant steps", Gelernt said. "If those [parents] submitted birth certificates...[we] suggest those kids be released".

On June 26, Sabraw, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, set a Tuesday deadline for reuniting children under 5 with their families and a July 26 deadline for reunification of about 3,000 children over age 5. The court would reconvene on Friday to establish whether administration officials had carried out that order. They don't have to prove they will be a good sponsor.

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