Administration

ACLU: Migrant parents refusing reunification because it’s ‘too dangerous’

Some migrant parents separated from their children at the U.S. border and deported back home are refusing to be reunited with their children because their countries are too dangerous, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) told a court on Friday.

"We've had very difficult conversations with the parents this week," ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt told a federal judge in San Diego, according to Reuters. "As much as they want to be with their child, and it's heartbreaking, they feel it's too dangerous."

Gelernt told the court that he attempted to contact the parents of some 300 children from Guatemala, and of those about two-thirds of the parents refused for their child to be returned to their home country.

The ACLU also contacted the parents of 162 children from other Central American countries, with 109 of them also refusing reunification, according to the court filing reported by Reuters.

Gelernt said that many parents with older children feared the children would be recruited by violent gangs if they returned to their home country. Some also have family members in the U.S. 

The White House faced intense criticism earlier this summer over the administration's "zero tolerance" policy aimed at deterring illegal border crossings, which resulted in thousands of family separations at the border.

The Trump administration missed several court-ordered deadlines to reunify families, with several hundred parents deported without their children.

Administration officials said Thursday the White House will pull out of a federal court agreement that limits the conditions under which migrant children can be detained and will instead seek to indefinitely jail migrant children with their families.

The administration said the proposal would ensure migrant children "are treated with dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors."

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