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10 July 2018, 05:46 | Erica Roy
Less Than Half of The Separated Immigrant Toddlers Will be Reunited By Tomorrow's Deadline
Almost 3,000 kids were separated from their parents as a result of the White House's zero tolerance immigration policy, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar estimated last week.The government has not said how many of them were reunited with their parents, and officials have asked for more time to meet one of the reunification deadlines.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the immigrant families, said it had heard of as many as 10 children under age 5 who were not on the government's list and was gathering more information.
The hearing Monday focused primarily on the status of the youngest children, and did not include details on whether the government would be able to meet the deadline for reuniting the older children with their parents later this month.
About 40 other very young children will not be returned to their parents yet, despite a court-imposed deadline, because the Trump administration either has not finished matching children with their parents or has not cleared the parents to take custody.
As the government awaits the court's Monday decision on whether or not the timeline for family reunification will be extended, time is of the essence: doctors have repeatedly warned that being separated from parents for even short periods of time can cause symptoms of toxic stress in children, which can derail healthy emotional development.
"We don't know how much effort the government has made to find these parents", he said.
Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabian provided the court with the most detailed data thus far on the 102 children under age 5 whom it identified as separated from their parents at the border.
HHS admitted it had resorted to DNA testing on some of the children to try to match them with their parents. A second hearing to monitor the reunification process was scheduled for Tuesday.
US District Court Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego ordered the list to be handed over by Saturday evening as he considers whether to extend the Tuesday deadline to reunify the families.
The ACLU, which launched the lawsuit that saw the Trump administration ordered to reunite all children separated from their families under its "zero tolerance" policy, said the administration looks set to fail to reunite even half of children under 5 with their parents.
What people need to remember is, it's not just the amount of time they've been separated, but for many of these families there was the feeling that they may never see each other again.
Sabraw denied a DoJ request for a blanket extension on Friday, but appears likely to grant short extensions for all the yet-to-be reunited children tomorrow when the ACLU and government return to court.
The two sides revealed in a filing late Monday that they are far apart on protocols for reunification, with the government arguing its practices are necessary under federal law to ensure child safety and the ACLU contending that many are too cumbersome under the circumstances.
Additionally, Gelernt took issue with the Trump administration's claim that it has lost track both of parents who have been released by ICE within the US pending their immigration or asylum hearings and at least nine parents who it deported without their children. Reporters on the ground have reported that there seemed to be no plan to track where different parts of families were being sent so that they could eventually be reunited.
Also Friday, Fabian said 19 parents were deported and 19 were released.
"The kid and parent are going to walk out into the United States with no money, nowhere to stay", he said. But the government has worked to keep the locations of these facilities secret under a federal protective order, citing without evidence concerns about "smugglers and traffickers" targeting the children.
"ICE will assume custody and then release the parent and child together", she said.
And if they continue to drag on, what would you ask the judge to do in that instance?
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