Hundreds of separated parents potentially deported

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration gave its first indication Monday of how many parents separated from their children may have already been deported: More than 460.

In a status update on the ongoing court-ordered family reunifications filed Monday, the government said 463 parents of separated children aged five and older are indicated as no longer in the US, according to their files. Though the government says the number is “under review,” it implies that potentially that many parents were deported from the US without their child.

The government has maintained that any parent deported without their child had the opportunity to bring their kid with them, but willingly left without them. Attorneys and immigrant advocates have questioned whether the parents fully understood to what they were agreeing.

Guatemalan Elsa Ortiz, who was deported from the US in June, asks to have her son back as she demonstrates outside the hotel where US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and authorities from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico, are holding a meeting in Guatemala City on July 10, 2018. – Nielsen arrived in the Guatemala to discuss the migration crisis unleashed by Washington’s “zero tolerance” practice with authorities of Mexico and countries of the North Triangle of Central America. The US policy saw more than 2,300 children split up from their families and their parents prosecuted for illegally crossing the border, even if they did so to seek asylum. (JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

A federal judge has ordered all families separated by the administration at the border reunited by Thursday, provided they are not ineligible due to issues like criminal history or safety concerns.

But for the 12 already deported parents the government identified in its first batch of reunifications, families with children under the age of 5, the government missed the deadline. Tracking down those parents and reaffirming they in fact do want their child to remain in the US without them proved difficult when the parents numbered one dozen. The government has not indicated how it will track down hundreds.

According to the status report filed in federal court in San Diego, the administration says there have been 879 families reunited — nearly doubled since Friday. Another 538 parents are in government custody and cleared for reunification but waiting on transportation for reunification.

The filing also includes reunifications “or other appropriate discharges” of children from detention: 1,187. That number would presumably would include children who have been released to a family member or friend that was deemed an eligible sponsor by Health and Human Services.

There are 1,634 out of 2,551 separated children who have been potentially cleared for reunification. Another 194 are either ineligible or declined reunification, 463 are not believed to be in the country and another 260 are being reviewed. The Department of Health and Human Services believes many of those children may have been released to another family member or sponsor.

Of the parents still in the US, 900 are already facing a final order of deportation. Judge Dana Sabraw has temporarily ordered a pause on all deportations of reunited families as he considers a request to allow families time to evaluate their options before deportation.

Another hearing in the case is scheduled for Tuesday evening.

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