About 700 Migrant Children Have Not Been Reunited With Their Parents After Deadline
More than half of these children have parents who were likely deported without them.
United States government officials, law enforcement, and volunteers scrambled to reunite migrant families separated at the US-Mexico border yesterday in time to meet a court-imposed deadline of July 26.
This is the second court-imposed deadline to reunite families that the Trump administration has missed, though the officials said on Thursday evening that they had met the deadline and that the remaining children are ineligible for reunification.
The children still separated from their families remain in government custody.
The vast majority of these children cannot be reunited with their parents because authorities are not able to locate them, CNN reported. Officials have yet to offer a timeline for locating these parents and reuniting them with their children.
About 430 of these children have parents who are no longer in the US and were likely deported. Rights advocates are concerned that this will create additional obstacles in the immigration cases of these children.
“How can we go forward on a case if we don’t know the parent’s wishes?” a spokeswoman for Kids in Need of Defense told Reuters earlier this month. Others are concerned that the parents did not understand they were being deported without their children.
Nearly 70 of the children could not be returned to their parents due to “red flags” in their background checks and cases. Dozens of parents declined to be reunited with their children in the hopes of allowing them to remain the US, the Washington Post reported.
Heartbreaking stories from reunited families have made headlines as many young children have returned to their parents traumatized and disoriented, some having been separated from their parents for months.
Watch the emotional moment this mother was reunited with her son after nearly 3 months apart pic.twitter.com/z5lBevFH5X— NowThis (@nowthisnews) July 26, 2018
The Trump administration began separating migrant children from their families in mid-May as a result of its “zero tolerance” policy on prosecuting illegal immigration. The practice of splitting up migrant families led to public outcry and criticism from both sides of the aisle.
President Trump has since signed an executive order ending the practice of separating families at the border. Due to resource and capacity constraints law enforcement agents have also temporarily stopped detaining undocumented immigrants while they await their legal proceedings.