U.S. officials at the southern border may have taken a child of a U.S. citizen into custody, administration lawyers revealed Tuesday.
In a court filing to give an update on efforts to reunite families, lawyers for the Department of Justice (DOJ) said the administration is unable to determine if the child was separated from the parent, and the government hasn’t been able to locate the parent for more than a year.
The child is under the age of 5, according to the filing. Officials did not give any other details about the child or the parent's potential whereabouts.
One child “cannot be reunified at this time because the parent’s location has been unknown for more than a year,” the filing said. “Defendants are unable to conclusively determine whether the parent is a class member, and records show the parent and child might be U.S. citizens.”
U.S. officials are scrambling to meet a court-ordered deadline to reunite 102 children under the age of 5 who have been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
According to DOJ attorneys, a total of 75 of the 102 children in custody of the Department of Health and Human Services are eligible for reunification. DOJ attorneys said they expect to reunify a total of 38 by Tuesday’s deadline.
The Trump administration separated the families as part of its “zero tolerance” strategy to criminally prosecute all immigrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, including those who are seeking asylum.