Trump Administration Will Only Reunite Half of Separated Migrant Kids Under Age Five by Court Deadline

Human Rights

The Trump administration will fail to meet Judge Dana Sabraw’s deadline today, July 10, ordering the reunification of 102 separated migrant children under age five with their parents. Instead, the government expects to reunite only around half, 54. “The parents are currently in ICE custody,” reports Vox’s Dara Lind, “the children will be reunited with them there, and then, the government says, the parent and child will likely be released from custody together.”

That means another half will continue to remain separated from their parents, according to Department of Justice attorney Sarah Fabian, “including nine children whose parent was already deported, nine whose parent was released into the U.S. and 12 whose parent is in criminal custody. One child’s status is unknown because the government lacks information about the parent, Fabian said.” But even some of those numbers could be questionable, with Think Progress reporting that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is saying they know “of as many as 12 parents who have been deported.”

The administration can’t even say for sure how many migrant kids it has kidnapped from parents in recent weeks in the first place, estimating 3,000, while “a senior HHS official could not answer [Congress member Pramila] Jayapal‘s question about the number of separated children whose parents cannot yet be identified by the US government,” CNN reported.

This has been a self-created humanitarian crisis, and now the ACLU, which initially sued the administration over family separation and has assisted other asylum seekers in reuniting with their separated kids, has had to step in to assist this incompetent administration with reunification, adding they believe there are at least ten other kids under five who weren’t included in the list provided by the administration. As of last weekend, the administration had reunited only two kids with families.

Under Judge Sabraw’s order, the administration must reunite all separated kids with their parents by July 26. It’s clear the government won’t be able to fully comply with reuniting 100 kids, much less a number that is as large as 3,000, but apparently the judge appears to be satisfied with efforts so far, asking the government and ACLU to return to court to give an update:

He said that he was pleased with the efforts being made to reunite families, even if it proves impossible for some to be done by the deadline, suggesting it is unlikely the government will be accused of violating the court order.

Not that Donald Trump cares about separated kids or violating an order. During his Supreme Court announcement Monday evening, he read some words off a teleprompter about the rule of law, but by the next morning he was dismissing the judge, glossing over a question about the deadline to say that, “Well, I have a solution. Tell people not to come to our country illegally. That's the solution. Don't come to our country illegally. Come like other people do. Come legally.”

They’re coming legally, because, for the millionth time this year, asking for asylum at a U.S. port of entry is a legal act under U.S. law. In fact, what’s been reported from some asylum seekers is that border agents themselves have been the ones to violate the law, by turning them away. Just months into the Trump administration, then Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. John Kelly was sued over the practice.

As for the kids who are getting reunited in the hours to come, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is overseeing what have been turned into secretive transfers. “The children will be brought to an ICE location where the parents are,” said Fabian. “ICE will assume custody and then release the parent and children together. We have agreed it is best to not talk publicly about location too much for the safety of children, to ensure the orderly and safe release for everyone.”

But the ACLU is demanding “permission from the court to allow immigrant advocates and faith-based groups to know the location of these reunions. ‘The kid and parent are going to walk out into the United States with no money, nowhere to stay,’ [Lee Gelernt of the ACLU] said. ‘We just want NGOs and faith-based groups to be there to ask the families if they need a hotel room or bus ticket or something.’”

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