The Trump administration court filings on Feb. 1, 2019, stated it will be impossible to reunite thousands of migrant children who were separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Deputy Director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Jallyn Sualog responded to a lawsuit brought by the ACLU challenging the administration’s policy that separated a minimum of 2,737 migrant children from their families at the southern border, since summer 2017.
In the response, Sualog explained their office does not have the proper resources to find the children. She also stated the number of children affected by the Trump administration policy could be thousands more than what previously reported.
San Diego U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabrow is presiding over the lawsuit. ACLU’s lead attorney Lee Gelernt called the revelations by the Trump Administration outrageous. In a statement he said:
The Trump administration’s response is a shocking concession that it can’t easily find thousands of children it ripped from parents and doesn’t even think it’s worth the time to locate each of them. The administration also doesn’t dispute that separations are ongoing in significant numbers.
Sualog continued by stating that at least 100 ORR analysts would have to work at least eight hours a day for a minimum of seven to 15 months to “even begin reconciling” the number of children separated from their families due to the policy. She continued by saying the ORR does not have enough staff to complete a project of this enormity.
Immigration advocates are shocked the Trump administration did not track the children separated from their families, and now they are doing nothing to help reunite children and parents.
Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program, Michelle Brane, declared that the Trump administration is telling the world they do not care that the families were torn apart and will do nothing to reunite them.
The ACLU lawsuit alleged the Trump administration did not track 2,800 children they separated between April and June under the “zero-tolerance” policy. The court ordered the government to reunite these children who had been separated from their parents.
An inspector general’s report released in 2017 reported 159 children were in ORR care.
Many of these children’s parents have been deported after choosing to have their children stay in the United States rather than have them return to a dangerous situation in their home country. If the Trump administration does not permit the parents of these children re-apply for asylum, the children may be permanently separated.
Gelernt also declared he fears the Trump administration may have deported hundreds of more parents prior to the “zero tolerance policy” going into effect, who may never be reunited.
Jonathan White Commander of the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps said in a declaration, that most children who are unaccompanied were released to a family sponsor. Also, reuniting a child separated from their parents at this point may be destabilizing to the child, who now has a new life, and could cause child welfare concerns.
Gelernt responded by saying that the Trump administration had no right to give children away without having their parents make an informed decision. It is not a situation of parents who have decided to put their child up for adoption, but rather the child was taken from them by force.
The federal court judge in California will hear the case on February 21. Gelernt will argue that all families the Trump administration separated from their parents before the “zero tolerance” policy should be included in the ACLU lawsuit, and the government should be ordered these children with their parents.
Written by Barbara Sobel
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Huffington Post: Trump Admin Says It’s Too Hard To Reunite Thousands Of Separated Families: Court Filing
NBC News: Finding all migrant children separated from their families may be impossible, feds say
PBS: US sees limitations on reuniting migrant families
Featured and Top Image Courtesy Jonathan McIntosh’s of Flickr Page – Creative Commons License