58 immigrant children reunited as government slowly reconnects families

13 July, 2018, 11:52 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • Fewer than half of child reunions will meet Tuesday's deadline ACLU says

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But almost half of children under five years old remain separated from their families because of safety concerns, the deportation of their parents and other issues, the administration said.

US District Judge Dana Sabraw ordered both sides back in court on Tuesday to give another update and for him rule on differences over protocols to follow when reuniting children.

During Monday's court proceedings, government officials said that about half of the children in the under 5 age group - just over 50 - would be reunited by the deadline. Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit, said activists have turned up as many as 10 more names that need to added to the number of separated kids still in detention. The administration cited difficulties locating dozens of the youngest children's parents, including at least 19 who had already undergone deportation proceedings.

In a joint statement Thursday morning, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the government has "worked tirelessly" to reunite children taken from their parents by the government, while also assuring "the well-being of the children and returning them to a safe environment". It also does not offer any details on the process the government plans to use to reunite those families, or how it will work to reunite children whose parents have been deported.

Referring to parents who'd been deported without their children Thursday morning, Matthew Albence, executive associate director of ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations division, told reporters that ICE was "working with the consular officials in the foreign governments to provide information that would help facilitate" their reunification with their children.

One child has not been matched with a parent, Fabian said.

But my mid June, when the government admitted that more than 2,000 children had been separated while their parents were held in detention awaiting court dates, the administration came under pressure to rescind it.

Still other parents still have yet to undergo DNA testing to match them to their purported children.

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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. "In fact, the judge has praised our progress and the focus on the safety of the children".

A different judge, in Los Angeles, on Monday dismissed as "dubious" and "unconvincing" the U.S. Justice Department's proposal to modify a 1997 settlement known as the Flores Agreement, which says that children can not be held in detention for long periods, irrespective of whether they're with their families. "Apply lawfully and wait your turn", the officials said.

Abril Valdez of the ACLU of MI said the government was "vague" on the time and place of the reunifications that could come on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) for two Honduran men he represents.

That was one more than the government had announced earlier in the day.

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.

Other areas of disagreement include whether fingerprint checks should be run on other adult members of the household and parent participation a legal orientation program should be required before release.

"There's no question that the parties are meeting and conferring", Sabraw said at a court hearing Monday. A federal consent decree requires the government to release children from family detention facilities within 20 days. He also set July 26 as the deadline to reunite almost 3,000 children over age 5.

Children under five will be reunited with their parents. Parents were charged with the misdemeanor crime of crossing the border illegally and jailed for court hearings, while their children were sent to shelters or foster care.

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