DHS Refuses to 'Reunite' Children with Adults Who Aren't Their Parents

Erika Holt
July 11, 2018

They are among more than 2,300 children split up from their families as a effect of the "zero tolerance" practice that saw their parents prosecuted for illegally crossing the border, even if they did so to seek asylum.

We are going to propose within 48 hours of contacting a parent who is in the USA, and within one week of contacting a parent who's already been removed to another country. "This is real progress and I'm optimistic that many of these families will be reunited tomorrow, and then we'll have a very clear understanding as to who has not been reunited, why not, and what time-frame will be in place".

During a separate hearing on Friday, just after officials filed the paperwork requesting more time for reunification, federal lawyers said that the government had only located parents or guardians for about half of the 101 children in the 5 and under age group.

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt sought assurances from the government on Monday (Tuesday NZT) that advocates would be in position to guide parents when they are released in a foreign land.

This sort of carelessness raises major questions ahead of an even more significant deadline than Tuesday's: Sabraw had also ordered the government to reunite all of the almost 3,000 children it took from parents by July 26.

In total, the administration said it expects to ultimately reunite 75 of the 102 children with their parents.

ICE has three family detention centers with room for about 3,000 people in all, and the places are already at or near capacity.

Six of the 102 children are not eligible for reunification because they have a parent with a criminal history or were separated from someone who is not their parent. Others are still going through the backgrounding process to ensure they are the children's parents and fit to take custody of them.

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In separating families, Trump sought to advance a hard-line immigration policy that past administrations had considered and quickly abandoned as inhumane.

Numerous separated children are fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen met with diplomats from those countries in Guatemala on Tuesday to discuss U.S. immigration policies.

"I know very very little about this case", she said.

More than 50 children under age 5 could be back in the arms of their parents by the deadline at the end of the day, the Justice Department said.

Here's a look at some of the situations that families might face even after being reunited. The parents will be free while their cases wind through immigration court, and they're expected to be required to wear ankle monitors, AP reports. While parents were criminally prosecuted, children were placed in custody of the Health and Human Services Department. Fabian said, arguing their hands are tied by logistics. Eight other parents had serious criminal histories and the government found evidence of child abuse by another, according to the filing.

"For (the parents) who were deported without their children, (government officials) have not even tried to contact them or facilitate their reunification by today", ACLU lawyers wrote.

"Let me put it this way: I think the government in the last 48 hours ... has taken significant steps", Gelernt said.

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