Reunited immigrant children scooped up into parents’ arms

12 Juillet, 2018, 15:50 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Christian from Honduras recounts his separation from his child at the border during a news conference at the Annunciation House in El Paso Texas

The government adopted its family separation policy as part of a broader effort to discourage illegal immigration earlier this year.

"They're not aspirational goals", said Judge Dana Sabraw of U.S. District Court in San Diego, admonishing the government.

The ACLU said the government hasn't even reached out to 12 parents who were already deported while their kids were in USA custody, leaving those children stranded. Officials have until July 27 to reunite the remaining approximately 2,900 minors over the age of 5 with their parents.

The government has said some children were not eligible for reunification because the parent was deported, had a criminal record or was otherwise unfit.

"That is going to be a significant undertaking", Sabraw said on Tuesday of the next deadline.

The civil liberties organization said the government had provided it with a list of 102 children under 5 who would need to be reunited with their parents in time for the deadline.

Federal officials said they are reunifying as many children as they can and attributed delays to "legitimate logistical impediments" that make it "impossible or excusable" to meet the court's deadlines.

Sabraw's order included exceptions that might threaten the safety of the child.

One of them might be a child of a USA citizen, the Justice Department acknowledged Tuesday when it notified a federal judge about the progress being made to complete more than 100 reunions.

Migrants with children who are apprehended in the United States are now given a notice to appear in court and being told, "Welcome to America", according to another senior Department of Homeland Security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be identified by name.

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On Monday (Tuesday NZT), a federal judge in Los Angeles rejected the Trump administration's efforts to detain immigrant families in long-term facilities, calling it a "cynical attempt to undo a longstanding court settlement".

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.

One Honduran father had been warned by border agents that his child would be taken away, and had been given an opportunity to explain to his son what would happen.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday that by the end of the day, he expects 38 children will have been reunited with their parents.

Matthew Albence, executive associate director of ICE's enforcement and removal programs, told reporters on Tuesday that the administration had also at least temporarily ceased referring adults who arrive in the USA illegally with children for prosecution, adding that they will be given ankle bracelets "and released into the community".

ICE has three family detention centers with room for about 3,000 people in all, and the places are already at or near capacity.

ACLU lawyers took issue with the remaining 16. On June 27, she finally made contact with her children and has been given weekly visitation rights. "If those [parents] submitted birth certificates...[we] suggest those kids be released".

Of those 75, Justice Department attorneys told the court the government already reunited four children and would guarantee 34 others would be back with their parents by the end of Tuesday.

Sabraw said Tuesday that "full background checks of other adults in the household are not necessary under these unique circumstances".

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