SAN DIEGO – More than 100 children who may never be reunited with their parents remain in the custody of the government as officials work to rectify the crisis caused by the Trump administration’s decision to separate undocumented immigrant families at the border.
The court-mandated reunification of families separated at the border continues slowly, as the government reports having released 34 separated immigrant children since last week.
The news comes in the latest status filing in the ongoing lawsuit over the government’s separation of such families, a weekly report on the progress to reunite hundreds of children who couldn’t be reunited by the court-ordered July deadline. All told, more than 2,000 children have been reunited with parents and more than 240 have been released to someone else deemed suitable of out of the more than 2,600 the government identified as being separated from a parent before it stopped the practice in June.
Hundreds of children still remain in US custody, but the number eligible for reunification is dwindling.
More than 100 have declined reunification after the parent was deported, and several dozen more declined reunification inside the US, had a parent who was deemed a danger to the child or were separated from someone beside their biological parent.
All told, there are 182 children in government custody who may still be on track for reunification, including six under the age of 5 years old. The vast majority of them have parents who were sent back to their home countries. Another 50 kids are on the verge of being reunified with their parents in those home countries.
The 34 released since last week include nine who were released to someone beside the parent they were separated from at the border and 23 who were reunited with their parent.
Also dwindling is the share of parents who have yet to be reached by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is coordinating families making final decisions on whether to reunite. Since last week, the government and ACLU have worked together more closely on tracking those parents down, the administration said in the filing.
But there are other communications issues. ACLU said some parents have been told their children are coming and have traveled great distances to meet them, only to have the arrival dates changed. The filing says the administration and ACLU are working to prevent that happening again.
There will be a status hearing in the case on Friday afternoon.