57 of 103 chil­dren re­united with fam­i­lies af­ter sep­a­ra­tion

Of­fi­cials claim vic­tory two days af­ter missed dead­line

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials told a judge Thurs­day they had to cut cor­ners and turned very young chil­dren over to adults with­out fully con­firm­ing they were re­lated in the rush to meet this week’s cour­tordered dead­line to re­unite with fam­ily 103 ju­ve­niles sep­a­rated by Pres­i­dent Trump’s zero-tol­er­ance bor­der pol­icy.

Even ig­nor­ing the full safety checks, only 57 of the 103 chil­dren un­der age 5 were able to be re­united with par­ents as of Thurs­day morn­ing — two days af­ter the dead­line set by U.S. Dis­trict Judge Dana Sabraw.

The govern­ment says the other 46 adults seek­ing the chil­dren didn’t end up qual­i­fy­ing for get­ting them back, some­times be­cause of­fi­cials proved they weren’t ac­tu­ally re­lated or had ma­jor crim­i­nal records.

Judge Sabraw will ren­der judg­ment Fri­day on whether the re­turn of 57 was enough to meet his de­mands, but the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union, which is rep­re­sent­ing the par­ents in a ma­jor law­suit, said they were deeply dis­ap­pointed.

“Make no mis­take about it: the govern­ment missed the dead­line even for these 57 chil­dren,” said ACLU lawyer Lee Gel­ernt.

In each of the cases, the fam­i­lies were re­united and then quickly re­leased from govern­ment cus­tody out into the com­mu­ni­ties — a re­newal of the catch-and-re­lease poli­cies Mr. Trump has said he wanted to end.

Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials said the mi­grants are ex­pected to check in and show up for even­tual de­por­ta­tion, but ac­knowl­edged that may not hap­pen in many of the cases as the mi­grants dis­ap­pear into the shad­ows.

The ACLU had asked that the govern­ment pro­vide the lo­ca­tions of the re­leases so char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tions would be on hand to help the fam­i­lies, who in many cases were be­ing re­leased in un­fa­mil­iar cities with no re­sources. The govern­ment had said it would do that — but didn’t fol­low through in any of the cases, the ACLU said.

They re­ported that one mother was re­united with her chil­dren, in­clud­ing a 6-month-old daugh­ter, then dropped at a bus sta­tion and had to scram­ble to get bus fare.

The 103 chil­dren un­der age 5 were just a dress re­hearsal for a much big­ger prob­lem loom­ing for the govern­ment. Judge Sabraw has set July 26 as the dead­line to re­unite more than 2,000 other ju­ve­niles ages 5 to 17 who were sep­a­rated in the weeks that the zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy was in full op­er­a­tion.

Govern­ment of­fi­cials have de­clined to say how that process is go­ing, but will have to pro­vide an up­date to the court Fri­day.

Judge Sabraw this week or­dered the govern­ment to cut cor­ners on its usual re­uni­fi­ca­tion process, say­ing to only use DNA test­ing in rare cases to make sure adults re­ally are the par­ents of the chil­dren they claim.

That will al­most cer­tainly mean that chil­dren will be turned over to im­posters.

In seven of the cases of chil­dren un­der 5, adults who’d claimed to be par­ents had those claims dis­proved. In three cases, the threat of DNA test­ing was enough to get the adults to ad­mit they weren’t ac­tu­ally par­ents.

“Elim­i­nat­ing any one of these steps will en­dan­ger the chil­dren,” said Chris Meekins, a high-rank­ing of­fi­cial at the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Depart­ment.

Of the 46 chil­dren who were part of the orig­i­nal tar­get group but weren’t re­united, seven were the bo­gus par­ents. An­other 11 par­ents had se­ri­ous crim­i­nal records, in­clud­ing child cru­elty and mur­der charges, that made them un­fit. One other pre­sented a false birth cer­tifi­cate for a child, and the govern­ment is try­ing to fig­ure out parent­age.

An­other par­ent was a child abuser, one par­ent couldn’t take back the child be­cause they were plan­ning to live in a home with some­one ac­cused of child sex abuse, and one par­ent has a com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­ease that must be cleared up.

A dozen other par­ents were de­ported, 11 are in state or fed­eral jails serv­ing time, and the govern­ment can’t track down the where­abouts of an­other.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Chil­dren taken from their from par­ents are brought to the U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment of­fice build­ing in Grand Rapids, Michi­gan, to be re­united with fam­ily Tues­day. More than 2,000 chil­dren were re­port­edly sep­a­rated from af­ter cross­ing the U.S. bor­der.

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