Friday, 21 September, 2018


Government Won’t Reunite All Under-5 Children With Parents Before Tuesday Deadline

Government Won’t Reunite All Under-5 Children With Parents Before Tuesday Deadline Government Won’t Reunite All Under-5 Children With Parents Before Tuesday Deadline
Bennie Garza | 10 July, 2018, 14:21

Forcing families that have already suffered the enormous trauma of being wrenched apart and jailed separately for weeks to wait even longer before they are reunited, the Trump administration is on pace to unify less than half of detained children under five years old with their parents before Tuesday's court-imposed deadline, the ACLU said late Sunday.

Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabien said that while only two children out of the 102 the government has identified have been reunited so far, she believes another 54 can be returned to their parents by Tuesday's deadline.

More than 2,000 children were forcibly separated from their parents at the Mexican border this spring under the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy on illegally entering the country.

At the hearing in San Diego, Judge Dana Sabraw gave the authorities extra time to determine which children will be back with their parents, as government lawyer Sarah Fabian said 54 of the youngsters could be returned to their parents by the Tuesday deadline, the U.S. media reports said.

The hearing followed a feverish weekend of talks between the administration and the ACLU after the judge refused on Friday to grant a blanket extension to the deadline, saying instead that he would only consider certain exceptions.

As Common Dreams reported, a federal judge ruled late last month that the Trump administration must reunite children under the age of five within 14 days and all of the almost 3,000 children it separated from their parents within 30 days.

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.

"The Government does not wish to unnecessarily delay reunifications or burden class members", the Justice Department filing reads. Yet in a disturbing investigation published Monday, BuzzFeed News has found that to not be the case, detailing the stories of several women who say they were ignored, roughly handled, shackled around the belly, and denied urgent medical care - even as they were miscarrying their children.

"I think the other point is, we just don't know how much effort the government has made to find released parents", Gelernt said.

During separation, parents were sent into federal custody while the children were taken by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and held at holding facilities often thousands of miles (kilometers) from their parents. Others are still going through the backgrounding process to ensure they are the children's parents and fit to take custody of them.

That's only about half of the 100 or so children covered by the court order.

Some parents of the children have already been deported; others are still in criminal custody; others are undergoing background checks. "This is real progress".

"It is very troubling that there are children and parents who are not in some kind of government tracking system", he said after the court hearing.

And why did the government say they can't meet the deadline?

"The government must reunite them", the judge said.

Fabian reportedly said that the reunited families will be released from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody ahead of immigration proceedings.

ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt suggested that for those not reunified by Tuesday, the judge could impose more specific deadlines.

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