Trump administration reunites just over half of children under 5 with parents

Leroy Wright
July 13, 2018

Zero tolerance had been among many Trump Administration efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, and some officials had specifically pitched family separations as a possible deterrent for border crossings.

That included 11 who had criminal records - either charges or convictions - seven who were not the parent but could have been a different relative, one who had a false birth certificate, another accused of child abuse, another who wanted to live in a home with an adult with a criminal history, 12 who were already deported, 11 who are now in state or federal criminal custody, one who cannot be found and one with a contagious disease. The U.S. government is in the process of contacting the 12 adults who were deported and working with foreign consulates in an effort to return their children to them, the officials said.

"TRUMP ADMINISTRATION COMPLETES REUNIFICATION FOR ELIGIBLE CHILDREN UNDER 5", read the headline of a joint Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Health and Human Services statement Thursday morning. "Of course, there remains a tremendous amount of hard work and similar obstacles facing our teams in reuniting the remaining families".

Earlier in June, President Trump signed an executive order rolling back family separations, a policy his own administration implemented.

At least one child being held in an immigrant detention center after being taken from their family may actually be a US citizen - and the government has lost track of their parents, court filings show.

Sabraw made clear during a court hearing Tuesday that his deadlines were firm, and he raised the possibility of punishment for the government if those children were not reunited by the deadline "or within the immediate proximity" of it.

The government is unaware of the location of the parent of one child, who according to a court filing may be a US citizen ― meaning he or she should not be in custody as a purported unauthorized immigrant. The government argued that the progress showed they were in compliance with the court order, even if the deadline was missed, but plaintiffs argued otherwise.

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The government has pushed back on the idea that screenings should be streamlined, although officials said they will comply with the judge's order. The deadline to reunify all the children under 5 was July 10. One allegedly abused a child. Last week, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said there were "under 3000" separated children in all. Fabian did not offer a timetable for when the other children would join their parents.

Sabraw also said fingerprinting other adults in the household shouldn't be required and that legal orientation training could occur after reunification, not before, as the government wanted.

"Their statement is vague at a minimum", said attorney Lee Gelernt, noting that a San Diego judge had set a deadline of Tuesday for reuniting those children.

During the June 27th ruling, the Judge stated that "Measures were not in place to provide for communication between governmental agencies responsible for detaining parents and those responsible for housing children, or to provide for ready communication between separated parents and children".

Mr Ardino held up his wrist and told reporters that after they were separated, he threatened to use a razor on himself if he couldn't speak to his son. HHS said they will be updating the ACLU later today on the exact number of those children they have in custody.

On a phone call with reporters Thursday morning, Chris Meekins, chief of staff of HHS's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, was blunt about what would happen to the children whose parents were deemed "ineligible" for reunification. "The American immigration system is the most generous in the world, but we are a nation of laws and we intend to continue enforcing those laws". That's about two weeks away for "under 3,000" children age 5 to 17.

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