'57 migrant kids under age five reunited with family'

Arturo Kim
July 13, 2018

ACLU lawyers have protested that federal officials were taking too long to find the parents who were deported and dragging out the vetting process of parents still in the United States by requiring home checks, background checks on other household members, including fingerprinting, or DNA testing for adults who were clearly the children's parents.

As the USA government missed a court-ordered deadline to reunite the youngest children with their parents, the legal news website Law and Crime reported on a court filing that shows at least one of the children being held in detention centers is not an illegal immigrant at all.

And they identified another 11 parents who were found to have a "serious criminal history", including charges or convictions of child cruelty, kidnapping and murder, making them a danger to their children. Since their parents' criminal proceedings happened quickly, the children and parents were reunited and transferred together to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, DHS said.

"Of course, there remains a tremendous amount of hard work and similar obstacles facing our teams in reuniting the remaining families", the officials said.

"The Trump administration does not approach this mission lightly, and we intend to continue our good faith efforts to reunify families", the trio of department heads added.

The announcement comes as the USA government scrambles to reunite thousands of migrant children who were separated from their parents at the border under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

The government was supposed to reunite children under age 5 with their parents by a deadline of Tuesday and has until July 26 to do the same for all minors separated from their mothers and fathers at the border. The order provided the administration with 15 days to reunite children under the age of 5 and 30 days to reunite all others.

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"What these children are going through, they deserve to be with their parents", she said.

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project and the lead lawyer who argued for the preliminary injunction, said in a July 8 press release that the request for more time was unacceptable given the levels of trauma the children have already been subjected to. "But make NO mistake: the Trump administration missed the deadline, even for those 57 kids". Reporters on the ground have reported that there seemed to be no plan to track where different parts of families were being sent so that they could eventually be reunited.

The lead-up to the Monday court appointment indicated the duress the Trump administration is now under in trying to swiftly reunite the families it has separated - and just how messy the situation has gotten.

Most of the illegal immigrants try to enter the US through Mexico to escape gang violence and the lack of opportunities for a better life at home. The Department of Justice said the child, who has been in custody for more than a year, may be a USA citizen.

Between May and June of this year, about 2,300 children were separated from their families at the United States' border with Mexico. And for several weeks, administration officials have been under a court-ordered deadline: Reunite those young children with their parents, and do it quickly. The adults may be required to wear ankle monitors while their cases wind through immigration court, a process that can take years. One adult's location was unknown, they said.

Devin O'Malley, a Justice Department spokesman, said the department disagreed with Gee's Monday ruling and continued to review it. Another federal judge is considering a government motion to let parents choose between staying with their children in long-term ICE detention or voluntarily giving their children to HHS while they await legal proceedings, the New York Times reported. Another 24 were not reunified because their parent had been deported or was now in state or federal custody awaiting trial.

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