- Immigrant children around the US left shelters with their backpacks and a tender goodbye hug from staff members as the Trump administration began reuniting dozens of youngsters with their parents Tuesday under a court-ordered deadline. A second hearing to monitor the reunification process was scheduled for Tuesday.
A court ruling last month orderd the government to reunite 102 children under the age of five with their families by Tuesday.
Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said: "The court is holding the Trump administration's feet to the fire to get these kids reunited with their parents".
More than 2,000 children in all were separated from their parents by U.S. immigration authorities at the border this spring before President Donald Trump reversed course on June 20 amid an global outcry and said families should remain together. Both had arrived in the US after fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you.
In the meantime, many of these children have had to face their immigration proceedings without their parents in court.
About a week after Trump signed the order, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw of San Diego ordered that all children be returned within 30 days. But as government employees would soon realize, they had their work cut out for them. 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. Levy said that one mother of a four-year-old was told by federal authorities to find a larger apartment if she wanted her son back. Meanwhile, some separated children have been entered into an Obama-era foster care system, where temporary guardians described them as "shell-shocked". One child has still not had either of its parents identified.
In a series of tweets responding to the Trump White House's complaints about the "extreme" deadline, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) noted that what is truly extreme is the administration's inhumane family separation policy that made such a court-ordered deadline necessary.
Government lawyers said Tuesday that US officials will only be able to reunite 75 of 102 children under the age of 5 in the custody of Health and Human Services (HHS).
In a seven-page order, the judge called that request "a cynical attempt, on an ex parte basis, 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". Before the parent-child separations became widespread, the government operated three family detention centers with bed space of about 3,300.
More than 2000 children were separated from their parents by US immigration authorities at the border this spring before US President Donald Trump reversed course on June 20 amid an worldwide outcry. An additional 20 children have purported parents with whom they can not be reunited because those adults have already been either removed from the United States or released into the country, which removes DHS and HHS's ability to force them to come get the children they claim are theirs. "We oppose the administration's efforts to further prolong the suffering of these families".