Trump admin identifies 471 parents deported without children during family separations

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The Trump administration said Wednesday that it has identified 471 migrant parents who were removed from the country without first being reunited with or choosing whether to reunite with their detained children.

CNN reported that the Trump administration made the revelation in a court filing in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of a migrant woman seeking asylum who was separated from her daughter.

The filing comes the same day that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified before the House Homeland Security Committee, saying: “There was no parent who has been deported, to my knowledge, without multiple opportunities to take their children with them.”

{mosads}A DHS spokesperson told The Hill in an email that parents who were removed before the preliminary injunction was filed had the same opportunities to be reunited with their children before deportation.

“The Ms. L court filing today simply noted that the ‘possible’ universe of parents removed prior to the preliminary injunction was 471,” DHS said in an email.

“While the preliminary injunction formalized the opportunity to elect or waive reunification, even prior to the preliminary injunction it was the routine practice of [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] to allow parents to choose to take their children with them when being removed. The assertion that everyone removed prior to the preliminary injunction did not have the opportunity to be reunified is not supported by the Ms. L record or this document,” the spokesperson continued.

Court filings also revealed that the government has completed reunifications for 2,741 out of 2,816 children who were separated from their parents by immigration authorities.

A judge ruled last year that the Trump administration must halt its policy of separating families suspected of crossing the border illegally, and must work to reunify families already affected by the policy.

The ACLU reported last September that family reunifications involving family members who have returned to their home countries is often difficult due to the danger of returning a child to unstable countries.

“We’ve had very difficult conversations with [migrant] parents this week,” ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt said last year. “As much as they want to be with their child, and it’s heartbreaking, they feel it’s too dangerous.”

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