Judge says USA must reunite migrant families or face penalties
- Author: Rogelio Becker Jul 11, 2018,
Jul 11, 2018, 1:19
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- Immigrant children around the USA 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. The attorneys and judge did say, though, that they hoped the work that had gone into identifying the children under 5 and what is needed to reunite them with parents will help when it comes to the older group.
He similarly said the government should limit its use of DNA tests to reunite parents and children, following the ACLU's argument that the government was using the tests to delay family reunifications.
Two weeks have passed since President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end his administration's policy of separating undocumented immigrant children and parents, but chaos still reigns at the border and across the country as family reunification has hit roadblocks. As a result, the number of children eligible to be reunited has shifted in recent days as the government has discovered some individuals were not parents as they claimed or had criminal records. Another five families will likely be reunited after Tuesday, once the background check process is completed.
The government defended its screening, saying it discovered parents with serious criminal histories and one case of credible child abuse.
"I would adopt a more streamlined approach here", he said, adding: "The parents are not applying for custody". "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".
The ACLU sued in March on behalf of a Congolese woman who was separated from her daughter for five months after seeking asylum at a San Diego border crossing and a Brazilian asylum-seeker who was separated from her son after an arrest for illegal entry in August near the Texas-New Mexico border.
The Tuesday deadline is in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union which won an injunction last month to speed up the reunification of migrant families that were separated under the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy at the border.
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 child and his or her parent may be USA citizens, according to the filing.
And if they continue to drag on, what would you ask the judge to do in that instance?
That discrepancy in numbers is one of several disagreements both sides of the suit, the Justice Department and the ACLU, pledged to discuss later Monday. But on Monday, she said nine were removed from the United States and an additional nine were released here.
One of the reasons that we asked the court to order the government to provide us a very specific list of the families and any information the government had about those families, is so that we can mobilize the enormous volunteer effort on the ground to help find parents and children.
"The court has a range of options from significant fines to other types of relief", said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt.