US moves to unite migrant children with parents by deadline
11 July, 2018, 03:17 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
The group said the administration provided it with a list of 102 children under 5 years old who must be reunited by Tuesday under an order by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego.
More than 2,000 children in all were separated from their parents by United States immigration authorities at the border this spring before President Donald Trump reversed course on June 20 amid an global outcry and said families should remain together. Today's secretive reunification operation will be overseen by the Department of Homeland Security and will involve transporting the children hundreds of miles across the country to undisclosed locations. Before the parent-child separations became widespread, the government operated three family detention centers with bed space of about 3,300.
"My take on this whole situation is we're not done yet", she said.
Under-5 children who will remain separated for now include parents have already been released into the USA, have been deported, or are behind bars on criminal charges.
At a court hearing, Justice Department lawyer Sarah Fabian acknowledged the government wouldn't meet the deadline for all the children, citing a variety of reasons, including that the parents of some of the youngsters have already been deported.
He similarly said the government should limit its use of DNA tests to reunite parents and children, following the ACLU's argument that the government was using the tests to delay family reunifications.
The practice of separating families has been part of the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy, which refers anyone detained at the border for prosecution, including those seeking asylum in the United States. He asked attorneys for the government and the ACLU to file court papers by Monday night outlining their proposed reunification plans, with the ACLU calling for a more expedited process.
He told reporters that 14 illegal immigrants could not be reunited with children because some had criminal histories, some were determined not to be the parents of the children and one had a communicable disease.
HHS admitted it had resorted to DNA testing on some of the children to try to match them with their parents.
Abril Valdez of the ACLU of MI said the government was "vague" on the time and place of the reunifications that could come on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) for two Honduran men he represents. "Tell people not to come to our country illegally", he said. "They will not remain in ICE custody". The first is to return to the Obama administration policy of releasing and monitoring families while they await deportation proceedings. A longtime court settlement says children who cross the border illegally can not be detained for more than 20 days. An additional 20 children have purported parents with whom they can not be reunited because those adults have already been either removed from the United States or released into the country, which removes DHS and HHS's ability to force them to come get the children they claim are theirs.
Protesters in New York City marched last month in support of the families separated at U.S. -Mexico border.
Fabian attributed the holdup to difficulties tracking down some parents, and to necessary background checks on those whom they've found.
The government on Friday asked for an extension of the deadline, saying it needed more time to find and confirm the identities of the children and parents. American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt said in court on Tuesday that he wished the 1997 Flores settlement went so far as to require the release of parents with their children, but he agreed with the government attorney that it does not.
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