US vows to reunite young migrant children and parents

Blanche Robertson
July 12, 2018

The Justice Department has insisted that its "zero tolerance" immigration policy - which focuses on prosecuting all adults who illegally enter the United States but not necessarily detaining them - is still intact.

Earlier in June, President Trump signed an executive order rolling back family separations, a policy his own administration implemented.

The San Diego Judge said he was sticking with deadlines he set last month. According to the document, the child is under the age of five and has been held in an ICE detention center for over a year.

So far, the court has yet to change the reunification deadlines, which are set for July 10 for children under 5 and July 26 as the deadline for all children separated from their parents.

Presenting parents with that harsh choice will prevent them from using court orders created to protect their children "to bootstrap a right to [their own] release", Department of Justice attorney Scott Stewart said in federal court Tuesday while discussing a separate order to reunite families. He told attorneys that the final deadline will be "a significant undertaking".

"Their children are stranded in this country", the ACLU said of the children of deported parents. Thirty children will not be reunited by Tuesday, for a range of reasons. Those "impediments" included deportation of a parent or "safety and suitability screenings" that were ongoing. Yet in a disturbing investigation published Monday, BuzzFeed News has found that to not be the case, detailing the stories of several women who say they were ignored, roughly handled, shackled around the belly, and denied urgent medical care - even as they were miscarrying their children.

Trump blasts 'failing NY Times' over report on 'opposition' to breastfeeding measure
Why are we talking about this? The resolution at the World Health Assembly in Geneva in May was aimed at promoting breastfeeding. At the conference, Ecuador sponsored a proposal that recognized mother's milk as the healthiest option for nursing newborns.

Under-5 children who will remain separated for now include parents have already been released into the USA, have been deported, or are behind bars on criminal charges.

One Honduran father had been warned by border agents that his child would be taken away, and had been given an opportunity to explain to his son what would happen.

The separations sparked national and worldwide outrage that crossed party lines and including warnings from health experts that taking children from their parents would incur significant emotional harm. But the government does not have the room: Immigration and Customs Enforcement has three family detention centers with space for 3,000 people, and they are already at or near capacity, though the Trump administration is trying to line up space at military bases. "We demand immediate reunification of these families, an end to the so-called "zero tolerance" policy, and once and for all we must end family detention".

Among the other remaining question marks is whether authorities can streamline their vetting process for the migrant parents - which ACLU attorneys have described as needlessly cumbersome - and whether the government can pass along the locations migrant families will be released from custody, so that charity groups can more quickly offer them support. They have to conduct criminal background checks of the parents.

ACLU lawyers took issue with the remaining 16. "If those [parents] submitted birth certificates...[we] suggest those kids be released". That deadline was not met, officials acknowledged, while noting plans were under way on Tuesday to reunite up to 54 migrant children under five with their parents. During Tuesday afternoon's court hearing, Judge Sabraw stated that he expected administration officials to reunite as many as 63 of the eligible separated children with their parents by the deadline. The court would reconvene on Friday to establish whether administration officials had carried out that order.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER