Immigrant families still remain separated; federal judge not budging on failed border deadlines

While some migrant families were back together again, the Trump administration fell short of fulfilling a court-imposed July 10th deadline to reunite 102 detained children, from 5 years old and younger, with their parents.

By the end of Tuesday, less than 40 families were reunited, falling short of the expectations lawyers had as they exited the courthouse Tuesday afternoon.

“So, we are extremely disappointed that the government looks like they’re not going to reunify all the eligible children today, and that they have not even tracked down the removed parents. But we do think since the judge became involved in the compliance process after this past friday, things have taken a real step forward and there has been progress,” said Atty. Lee Gelernt. “We are hoping that that means from now on, no deadline will be missed, either for these under five or for any of the 2,000 plus going forward.”

“What’s really important he affirmed the date. He didn’t extend the deadline he told the government they did not have to do these extended procedures that don’t apply in the situation of family separation,” said Bardis Vikili.

Lawyers were expecting as many as 60 children to be reunited, after the courts gave guidance on how to expedite the process.

But for the past few days, the government has warned that it will miss the deadline, estimating that only about 50 families would be brought back together by Tuesday.

“What the judge made clear, they don’t have to wait for DNA testing if there’s other evidence of parentage — like a birth certificate or a family member that can come forward and identify that that’s the parent they don’t have to wait and do home studies, and those kinds of things. To get these kids back to their parents so the parents can get back to making decisions for what’s in the best interest of the child.”

With families now getting back together, the ACLU says many of them will have to make some choices on what to do next.

“Some people have been deported. Some of them may elect to get deported,” said Vikili. “The whole point here is that the adults get to make knowing and voluntary choices. We agreed on a notice to be posted in the facilities so they understand their rights. So parents can make a true voluntary decision, not one whether their parents have been ripped from them or not.”

Some 2,000 migrant families have been separated in recent weeks as a result of President Trump’s zero tolerance on illegal immigration law.

US district judge Dana Sabraw has told the ACLU to draft sanctions to impose on the Trump administration for failing to reunite the eligible families.

After Tuesday’s ruling advocates are also optimistic that the July 26th deadline for the separated children over age 5 will also be upheld by the courts.

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