57 migrant kids under age five reunited with family, US Government says
- Author: Rogelio Becker Jul 13, 2018,
Jul 13, 2018, 2:42
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The U.S. government won't be able to reunite all immigrant children under five with their families by Tuesday's deadline, but a federal judge in San Diego appeared satisfied with the progress officials are making.
More than two thousand children have been taken from their parents since April and it's estimated that 64 children under 5 years old are still waiting to be reunited with their families. He asked the government to return to court Friday to give an update on how many families had been reunited.
Trump has for years railed against catch and release, blaming it for crimes and violence committed by unauthorized immigrants during the administration of President Barack Obama.
Most parents reunited with the youngest children this week were being released from custody on ankle monitoring devices to await immigration hearings. Another five families will likely be reunited after Tuesday, once the background check process is completed.
Government officials told reporters that 46 children were not returned to their parents for legitimate reasons already recognized by the court, including 22 children who face "safety concerns" posed by the adults with whom they had been traveling. They said some of their parents had already been deported. The child is now in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Pressed on whether his "solution" was to punish children for being brought to the U.S. illegally by adults, Trump retreated to more general comments.
"The reunification process has been chaotic and has unequivocally come at a cost", Beth Krause, a supervising lawyer at the Legal Aid Society's Immigrant Youth Project, said in a statement.
Earlier this week officials said at least one of the children in their custody might be a US citizen.
HHS and DHS are working to make arrangements for those children ages 5 to 17, officials said. One parent was suspected of child abuse; another was living in a household with another adult who had an outstanding warrant for criminal sexual abuse of a minor.
The administration defended its screening, saying it discovered parents with serious criminal histories, five adults whose DNA tests showed they were not parents of the children they claimed to have, and one case of credible child abuse.
For almost one month Perez knew nothing about her children - "the longest, most torturous time of my life", she said.
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.
She set a Tuesday deadline for children under 5 to be reunified and July 26 for the older children. Critics said the administration failed to track the separated families, making it hard to reunite them.
Mr Ortiz said he was separated from his three-year-old son Andre for three months and refused to go back to Guatemala unless he could take his son.
"When they release the parent they just don't walk out the door with no record", Gelernt said.
Still, despite the frustrations and delays, Sabraw sounded a positive note, suggesting that he would be inclined to extend the July 10 deadline given the work that Fabian presented Monday.
An additional 24 children were declared not eligible because of various circumstances of the adults - 12 have been deported, nine are in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, two are in the custody of state jails and the location of one has been unknown for over a year.