Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

USA child migrants: Trump administration says 1,800 reunited

Families remain separated as deadline passes Trump admin may have deported hundreds of parents without kids
Kenny Thornton | 27 July, 2018, 05:33

The government said it's on track to meet Thursday's deadline to reunite the majority of immigrant children who were separated from their parents when they illegally crossed the border, The Washington Post reported.

In a court filing, the Justice Department said 1,820 children ages 5 and up had been discharged from the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. "In court on Friday, the government was not able to say how numerous 136 parents were still in the country, and this is information we will continue to press for".

The absence of the 463 parents, which US government lawyers said was "under review", could impede government efforts to reunite separated families by Thursday, the deadline ordered by a federal judge.

The government said that 463 parents of immigrants children are no longer in the United States - which presumably means that most or all of these parents have been deported. Officials said they tried to reunite all families by the deadline, but there are 711 children ineligible, including 431 whose parents have been deported and 120 whose parents waived reunification.

The government and the group that brought the lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union, have disagreed over some of the points of eligibility and what was required to meet the court's deadline.

A judge had ordered the Trump Administration to reunite all children ages 5 and up by Thursday. The separations took place under President Trump's so-called "zero tolerance" border policy, which called for criminal prosecution of anyone caught crossing the USA border illegally.

Lourdes de Leon, who turned herself into immigration authorities, was deported to her native Guatemala on June 7 but her 6-year-old son, Leo, remained in the United States. That's hardly evidence that the administration's practice of family separation caused any drops in attempted illegal border crossings.

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The government said 900 of the plaintiffs have final orders of removal from the country and about 20 already have left. "Those are incredibly hard legal decisions to make for parents and children who haven't seen each other, and we believe seven days is more than reasonable".

"We're seeing some kids swept away in the middle of the night to be reunified", said Anthony Enriquez of Catholic Charities of NY, which represents some of the affected children.

Some children who had not seen their parents in weeks or months seemed stoic and slow to accept that they would not be abandoned again. The Department of Homeland Security's internal watchdog said it would review the separation of families, along with the conditions at Border Protection facilities where migrant children are held, in response to scores of congressional requests to do so. Faith-based and other groups have provided meals, clothing, legal advice, plane and bus tickets and even new shoe laces, which are taken away from people in detention.

Numerous parents speak indigenous languages, of which there are more than two dozen in Central America.

Lawyers Leslie Thorne and Emily Westridge Black, for example, said a Honduran mother they were representing was told she was going to be reunited with her 12-year-old daughter after two months apart. "All five said they can't read or write in Spanish or English".

However, Sabraw also criticized the government for a lack of information about the parents' whereabouts, calling it the effect of "a policy that was in place that resulted in large numbers of families being separated without forethought as to reunification and keeping track of people". The judge also issued a temporary suspension on deportations of reunited families.

The Trump administration recently halted its policy of separating migrant families at the border with Mexico.

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