Trump administration says all eligible small children were reunited with parents

Evarado Alatorre
Julio 12, 2018

Sabraw also gave the immigration authorities 14 days to reunite children under the age of 5 with their parents. Officials have until July 27 to reunite the remaining approximately 2,900 minors over the age of 5 with their parents.

Of the almost 3,000 migrant minors who were separated from their parents and placed in federal custody, the Trump administration says at least 102 are under 5 years old.

On Tuesday, with the court-mandated deadline looming, the government responded.

The other 46 children were ineligible for reunification for various reasons, including that their parents had criminal histories, were in custody or had been deported, as well as for health reasons, the government said.

Additionally, according to the lawyers, 20 children were eligible for reunification but would not be reunified by the July 10 deadline "due to legitimate logistical impediments that render timely compliance impossible or excusable". But Sabraw told officials to move faster, saying he believed 63 children could be quickly returned to their families.

The government last week asked for more time to complete the reunification because it claimed it needed more time to ensure the children's safety and to confirm their parental relationships.

The distance between many children and their parent or parents have been coupled with logistical challenges and resulted in a major bureaucratic snag. "They're not aspirational goals". Azar said for another 16 of the 102 migrants under five, the children weren't being reunited because the parents were found to either be "demonstrably unfit" or not to be the parents of the child in question. One adult had a falsified birth certificate, one was accused of abusing the child who had been brought across the border, one was being treated for "a communicable disease" and one had planned to house their child with an adult who had been charged with child sexual abuse. Fabian said another 12 have parents in state or federal prison.

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Under-5 children who will remain separated for now include parents have already been released into the United States, have been deported, or are behind bars on criminal charges. The families will be released after they are reunited.

She called the Justice Department's request to amend the settlement "cynical" and said it was an attempt to "shift responsibility to the judiciary for over 20 years of congressional inaction and ill-considered executive action that have led to the current stalemate". They have to conduct criminal background checks of the parents. Meanwhile, some separated children have been entered into an Obama-era foster care system, where temporary guardians described them as "shell-shocked".

The government pays for DNA and screening fees, officials said. "If those [parents] submitted birth certificates...[we] suggest those kids be released".

As for the 64 children who remain in custody, the administration provided a list of excuses that includes reasons behind the failure to reunify 64 of the children, such as eight "parents had serious criminal history" or one "parent detained in ICE custody is now being treated for a communicable disease". The court would reconvene on Friday to establish whether administration officials had carried out that order.

As daunting as the process appeared in court, this week's deadline concerns less than 5 percent of the children separated from their parents in recent months.

In ordering an end to the separation of families, the president said they should instead be detained together. In fact, he has stated that "the families were improperly separated" in the first place.

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