US says all eligible youngest children, families reunited
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration says all eligible small children separated from their families as a result of its zero-tolerance immigration policy have been reunited with their parents.
But, nearly half of the children under 5 remain separated from their families because of safety concerns, the deportation of their parents and other issues, the administration said.
The administration was under a court mandate to reunify families separated between early May and June 20, when President Donald Trump signed an executive order that stopped separations.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of a woman who had been separated from her child, and U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw ordered all children reunited with their parents.
Fifty-seven children were reunified with their parents as of Thursday morning, administration officials said.
“Throughout the reunification process, our goal has been the well-being of the children and returning them to a safe environment,” according to a statement from the heads of the three agencies responsible for the process.
“Of course, there remains a tremendous amount of hard work and similar obstacles facing our teams in reuniting the remaining families. The Trump administration does not approach this mission lightly”.
ACLU lawyers said regardless of the reunifications, the government missed the court-ordered deadline and they would be deciding how to address the non-compliance with the court.
The zero-tolerance policy calls for the criminal prosecution of anyone caught crossing the border illegally.
Because parents can’t take their children to jail, they were separated.
The move caused an international uproar.
At least 2,300 children were separated from about 2,200 adults until the executive order was signed.
Federal officials have been scrambling to reunite the children under a tight, two-week deadline set by the judge.