The American Civil Liberties Union suspects, with good reason, that the Trump administration will miss the deadline to reunite the young children it forcibly separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Associated Press reports that the Trump administration provided the ACLU with a list of 102 children under the age of 5 that are currently being detained, but the organization said it “appears likely that less than half will be reunited” by the July 10 deadline.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw set July 10 as the deadline for the Department of Justice to reunite all children under the age of five with their families; July 26 is the deadline for all older children. But if the Justice Department can’t even reunite a little more than 100 babies and toddlers with their families, the outlook for reuniting the thousands of older children looks grim.
One major sign of trouble is the fact that the Justice Department requested, and was denied, an extension.
From the AP:
The Justice Department asked U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw for more time last week but the judge on Friday did not grant a blanket extension, saying only that he would consider certain exceptions. He told the two sides to discuss possible exceptions and report to him Monday. The Justice Department was working through the weekend on a path toward unification and was preparing a progress report for the court. [...]
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday there were “under 3,000” children separated from their parents. Previously, he said 2,047.
“It’s extremely disappointing that the Trump administration looks like it will fail to reunite even half the children under 5 with their parent,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt. “These kids have already suffered so much because of this policy, and every extra day apart just adds to that pain.”
In the months since Attorney General Jeff Sessions first introduced the “zero-tolerance” policy, the administration has separated thousands of children from their parents at the southern border as they attempted to seek refuge in the United States. While the parents are criminally prosecuted, the children are in the the custody of Health and Human Services.
This includes literal babies: the AP has also reported that a one-year-old had his day in a court before an immigration judge in Phoenix. He played with a purple ball and drank milk from a bottle during his hearing.