U.S. to keep 46 mi­grant kids away from par­ents

57 oth­ers re­u­nited as of­fi­cials point to safety amid law­suit

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Colleen Long

WASH­ING­TON — The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion said Thurs­day that 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, 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 A woman car­ries a baby as mi­grants are dropped off last month at a bus sta­tion af­ter be­ing re­leased in Texas. dead­line and they would be de­cid­ing how to ad­dress the non­com­pli­ance with the court.

“If, in fact, 57 chil­dren have been re­u­nited be­cause of the law­suit, we could not be more happy for those fam­i­lies. But make no mis­take about it: The govern­ment missed the dead­line even for these 57 chil­dren,” at­tor­ney Lee Gel­ernt said.

The­of­fi­cials said 46of the chil­dren were not el­i­gi­ble to be re­u­nited with their par­ents; a dozen par­ents had al­ready been de­ported and were be­ing con­tacted by the ad­min­is­tra­tion. Nine were in cus­tody of the U.S. Mar­shals Ser­vice for other of­fenses. One adult’s lo­ca­tion was un­known, they said.

Of the de­ported par­ents, of­fi­cials said they had cho­sen to leave their chil­dren be­hind. One de­ported fa­ther, how­ever, told the Los An­ge­les Times this week that he didn’t re­al­ize what he was do­ing when he signed the pa­per­work to leave his child be­hind. It wasn’t clear if he was one of the dozen; no names have been made pub­lic.

In 22 other cases, adults posed safety con­cerns, they said. Of­fi­cials said 11 adults had se­ri­ous crim­i­nal his­to­ries, in­clud­ing child cru­elty, mur­der or hu­man smug­gling. Seven were not de­ter­mined to be a par­ent, one had a false birth cer­tifi­cate, one­hadal­legedly abused the child. An­other planned to house the child with an adult charged with sex­u­ally abus­ing a child.

“The se­ri­ous­ness of the crimes is the rea­son why we are not go­ing to re­unite them,” said Matthew Al­bence of Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment, of the 22 cases.

The 46 chil­dren will re­main in the care of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, which will con­tinue to seek to place them with a spon­sor, such as other fam­ily mem­bers or even foster care, as it does for the more than 10,000 other mi­nors who ar­rived in the coun­try with­out a rel­a­tive. Chil­dren spend an av­er­age of 57 days in shel­ters be­fore they’re placed with a spon­sor. They are given ac­cess to med­i­cal care and coun­sel­ing, as well as school.

The zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy calls for the 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 dead­line set by the judge. The next dead­line is July 26.

LOREN EL­LIOTT/GETTY-AFP

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