Court ordered review finds possibly thousands more cases of family separation: report

Court ordered review finds possibly thousands more cases of family separation: report
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A court-ordered review of migrant families who may have been separated at the U.S.-Mexico border found over 1,700 cases of possible separations thus far.

Cmdr. Jonathan White of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps said in court Friday 1,712 cases with "some preliminary indication of separation" have been referred to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the next phase of review. The Corps has examined 4,108 children's case files to this point, according to CNN.

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White warned that not all of the cases involve separations.

"What we transmit to CBP is solely those cases that have some preliminary indication of separation," White said. "We err on the side of inclusion."

A lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sparked the effort to track parents and children who were separated at the border under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

While a court ordered last year for the government to reunite all separated families, a watchdog report revealed in January that there could be thousands more families that had not previously been included in tallies. A judge ruled in March that the families counted in the watchdog report should be included in the class action lawsuit over family separations.

The review, ordered in April, is part of the government’s plan to “substantially identify all class members within six months.”

Officials have said they will need to review roughly 47,000 files dating back to July 2017. White said his team is ahead of schedule, so far reviewing over 13,000 files.

Once White’s team completes its review, case files that indicate families were separated go to CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which then send a refined list to the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Officials will provide the ACLU with a list of separated parents and children as they are revealed.

"Our hope is to have a more concrete report with overall timing the next time we report to you on progress," Scott Stewart, an attorney for the government, said in court Friday, according to CNN.