The Trump administration has missed its July 10 deadline to reunify all 103 children under the age of 5 that it separated from its parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Despite the order issued by District Court Judge Dana Sabraw in June, only 57 of the babies and toddlers have been reunified with their parents; 46 (not to mention the thousands more older children covered by July 26 deadline) remain separated from their families.
And according to a court filing submitted yesterday by the American Civil Liberties Union, it’s impossible to even verify the administration’s claims that 57 children have been reunified.
Immigration officials broke a promise to notify attorneys when and where each reunification would take place, the ACLU said, and to allow third parties to witness them. Instead, the ACLU said, authorities “only provided a general prediction,” making the reunifications impossible to confirm.
The details in yesterday’s ACLU filing underscore just how chaotic the process of reunifying families has been, raising serious concerns about the administration’s ability (and willingness) to fix the humanitarian crisis that it caused in the first place.
As Politico reported:
In its filing, the ACLU also accused immigration officials of compelling some parents to pay for travel. One parent, the ACLU said, was told to wire $1,900 to Western Union to cover reunification costs, while another had to assume the cost of a plane ticket after being told a flight had been purchased for the child. In addition, the ACLU said, some migrants “possibly” were asked to pay for DNA tests, but it didn’t provide details.
One parent, the ACLU said, was left alone by Immigration and Customs Enforcement at a bus stop with her children, including a 6-month-old baby. Another was transported through a series of ICE centers in New Jersey and Michigan without the parent’s attorney being notified beforehand. The lawyer also was blocked from attending the reunification, according to the filing.
“Class Members’ individual lawyers and service providers were left frantically scrambling to find their clients and provide support,” the ACLU wrote.
For the young children and their parents who have been reunified, their stories are devastating. One mother who was reunited with her 1-year-old
said her child was covered in “dirt and lice.” Some children no longer recognize their own parents after being detained.
As for why the Trump administration failed to meet its deadline? For 12 of the children, at least, their parents had already been deported.