ACLU blasts administration: They ‘didn’t meet the deadline’ on reuniting migrant families

ACLU blasts administration: They ‘didn’t meet the deadline’ on reuniting migrant families
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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) ripped the Trump administration over the reunification of migrant children separated from their parents, claiming officials failed to meet the Thursday night deadline to reunite the children with their parents.

The government said in a court filing Thursday evening that it had reunited 1,442 children over the age of 5 with their parents who were in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. Another 378 of those children have been “discharged in other appropriate circumstances,” including to a sponsor or to their parents in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody.

Another 711 children remain in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services's (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement after it was determined their parents are either not eligible for reunification or are unavailable.

Thursday was the court-ordered deadline for reunifications.

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"I think it's accurate to say they didn't meet the deadline. The only deadline they met was their self-defined deadline," Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said Thursday, The Arizona Republic reported.

But a DHS spokesperson said Friday that the administration "can confirm that we have reunified all eligible parents in ICE custody with children."

"The administration continues to comply in good faith with the court’s requests while protecting the safety and well-being of all children in our care. Some illegal alien adults are not eligible or available for reunification today, including some adults who are not in ICE custody and are instead in the interior of the U.S. or their home country or who have chosen not to be reunited," the spokesperson said. "The administration will continue to make every effort to reunify eligible adults with their children.”

The Trump administration said in a court filing earlier this month that it had identified 2,551 children in HHS custody who were likely separated from their parents at the border.

The officials said at the time that not all of the children would be reunited with their families “because some of those adults are not their parents or pose a clear danger to the children.”

"ICE and especially ERO has made a concerted effort and dedicated an inordinate amount of resources to ensure that these reunifications did occur," Matthew Albence, executive director of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations, said Thursday, according to the Republic. "The overall first guiding principal is the safety of these children."

The ACLU hit the Trump administration for leaving 914 people off the list of parents considered eligible for reunification with their children, including the more than 400 parents who may have been deported without their children.

Gelernt said hundreds of other parents may have mistakenly waived reunification with their children, the Republic reported.

--Updated at 11:26 a.m.