Deadline arrives for government to reunify immigrant families

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — With a deadline of July 26 hanging over the federal government, hundreds of immigrant children have been reunited with their parents.

As of Thursday, the government had been only partially successful in bringing together all of the separated families. According to the latest figures from the government, 1,442 families have been reunited.

According to court papers filed Thursday, the federal government contends that of the roughly 2,500 children who were separated from their families during the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, 1,820 have been returned to their families or otherwise released.

Attorneys claimed in court papers that as of Thursday afternoon, 1,442 children had been physically returned to their parents, while another 378 were discharged into “other appropriate circumstances.”

An estimated 711 children, however, remain in federal custody, with the parents of 431 of them having already been deported. According to the court papers, the parents of 120 of the remaining children waived reunification. The rest have been otherwise deemed ineligible for reunification, possibly because their parents have criminal records or their parents can’t be found.

Attorneys for the government told U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw earlier this week that they were proud of their progress to date. What is unclear is what will happen to the more than 700 children who are in government custody, still waiting for reunification.

The parents of some of those children have already been deported. On Tuesday, government lawyers reported 463 parents had left the United States without their children.

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union who filed the federal lawsuit to halt the separations said some of the parents mistakenly signed papers that waived their right to be reunited with their child. Lee Gelernt, the ACLU’s lead attorney in the case said, “The families have been misled or simply didn’t understand their rights, when they signed away their children.”

For those who are being reunited now, the ACLU has asked the judge to order a seven day period between the time a family is told they will be reunited and a parent’s deportation.

The civil rights advocacy group said parents and children who have not seen each other in months will need to time to discuss their options, especially if it means the child may stay behind to pursue a legal claim of asylum.

The judge may rule on the request for a seven day period before deportation in a court hearing on Friday.

Categories: Local San Diego News