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Home | News | Trump Administration Reunites 57 Immigrant Children Under 5, Declares “Eligible” Reunifications Complete
Pablo Ortiz and his 3-year-old son, Andres, and Roger and his 4-year-old, Roger Jr., speak to the media during a press conference at the Annunciation House immigrant shelter in El Paso in July 2018 after being released by ICE. Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

Trump Administration Reunites 57 Immigrant Children Under 5, Declares “Eligible” Reunifications Complete

The federal government said Thursday morning that it has reunited 57 immigrant children under the age of 5 who had been separated from their parents after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. In doing so, the government declared its efforts to reunite “eligible children” in that age group complete.

Those 57 children represent more than half of 103 “tender age” juveniles who had been identified as separated from their parents in a court case the American Civil Liberties Union filed against the government. The California judge in the case had ordered those children reunited by Tuesday. The rest of the children have been deemed ineligible for immediate reunification.

More than 2,000 children over the age of 5 remain separated from their parents. The court has set a July 26 deadline for those children to be reunified.

Of the kids under the age of 5 deemed ineligible for reunification, 12 have parents who were already deported by the U.S. government. Those parents “are being contacted,” according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release. Another 22 were found to be ineligible for reunification due to safety concerns (most often because their parents had a serious criminal record), there were worries about abuse or the adults they were supposed to be reunified with weren’t their parents. Eleven children’s parents were also in custody for other alleged criminal offenses. And in one case, the government has lost track of a child’s parent for more than a year.

In a joint statement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledged that a “tremendous amount of hard work and obstacles” remain in the reunification process.

“The Trump administration does not approach this mission lightly, and we intend to continue our good faith efforts to reunify families,” they said.

But in a statement, the ACLU noted that the unifications were completed two days beyond the original deadline.

“If in fact 57 children have been reunited because of the lawsuit, we could not be more happy for those families,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “But make no mistake about it: the government missed the deadline even for these 57 children. Accordingly, by the end of the day we will decide what remedies to recommend to the court for the non-compliance.”

Most families had been divided as part of the Trump administration’s now-reversed practice of separating those who crossed the border illegally — though some had also been separated before the policy became official, and some had been separated after seeking asylum legally at official ports of entry into the United States.

This week, families who have been reunified have been released from federal custody, given ankle monitors and ordered to appear back in court for their immigration proceedings. But government lawyers have indicated to the court that they might not continue that practice for long. In the future, the government has indicated, officials might give the parents a choice: Agree to be detained with their child — and give up that child’s right to be released after 20 days — or release their child to the custody of the federal government.

In their update on the reunification efforts, the three cabinet secretaries defended the Trump administration’s handling of the family separations.

“The American people gave this administration a mandate to end the lawlessness at the border, and President Trump is keeping his promise to do exactly that. Our message has been clear all along: Do not risk your own life or the life of your child by attempting to enter the United States illegally. Apply lawfully and wait your turn,” they said in their joint statement.

“The American immigration system is the most generous in the world, but we are a nation of laws and we intend to continue enforcing those laws,” they said.

Author: MATTHEW WATKINS – The Texas Tribune

About The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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2 comments

  1. #MAGA = MUELLER AIN'T GOING AWAY!

    It was always wrong to separate immigrant children from their parents to begin with when they first crossed into the United States Border from Mexico. It’s just this thing about skin color wether brown or black skin that NAZI Donald Trump just don’t agree with or likes.
    These immigrants came to the U.S. to seek asylum as they are escaping death and violence in their own countries and Donald Trump greets them all with his Hate and tells them to stay away from the U.S.
    A White Nationalist Supremacist Racist Fascist operating freely from inside the White House at Vladimir Putin’s service and disposal since Putin put him i’n the White House.
    ICE is now the American NAZI GESTAPO that kidnapped immigrant children away from their parents and purposely under strict orders from Donald Trump displaced them throughout unknown parts of the country.
    Yeah they were only able to reunite 57 immigrant children when yet they didn’t meets the federal judges court order deadline to reunite them back with their parents.
    Seriously, Donald Trump is a Mean Bad DIRTY NAZI ANIMAL!
    What goes around comes around and trump will get his soon or in the end, ROBERT MUELLER will get him 4 SURE!
    21 indictments, 5 guilty pleas and 1 prison sentence and one locked up in jail awaiting trial. While NAZI TRUMP IS ON THE LOOSE! destroying democracy and ruining our relationship with our NATO allies while he embarrasses the United States. Anxiously waiting to make love and romance with Vladimir Putin on Monday July 16th. With no interruption, just secretly together inside a room.Don’t say which hotel room!
    Maybe Vladimir Putin will give Trump a golden shower to remember 4 life.

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