Last Friday was the latest court-ordered deadline for the Trump administration to reunite immigrant parents and childrenwho had been separated for detention. And while the Department of Homeland Security claims that over half of the separated children have been reunited with their parents, hundreds remain in government custody, many with no plan for reunification.
So, what's next for these families?
Though exact figures are hard to come by, Vox has a breakdown of the numbers based on statements from DHS, ICE, and the Department of Health and Human Services:
- 1,442 children ages 5 to 17 (of an estimated 2,000-plus) have been reunited with their parents;
- 711 children remain in custody and have not been reunited with their parents;
- 431 (or so) of those have parents who have already been deported;
- 57 children under 5 (of 102) were reunited with parents by an earlier deadline, more may have been reunited since;
- 378 children have been released from government custody (some with their parents or other family members, some perhaps not); and
- 102 children's parents waived their right to reunification (though they may change their minds later).
What happens to reunited families remains unclear: As many as 900 parents still face deportation, and may be granted the choice to bring children with them, or leave them behind; hundreds of reunited families have been released already, although many with monitoring devices; and others remain in detention together. And for children who are still in custody and whose parents have either been released in the U.S. or deported, the American Civil Liberties Union is working with government officials on locating parents to facilitate reunification.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw said that the government "deserves great credit" for reunification efforts thus far, but admonished agencies like the HHS and Justice Department to do a more efficient job of reuniting children and parents in the future. "This problem cannot repeat," he said. The ACLU is also asking Judge Sabraw for a seven-day stay on deportations of reunited families.
If you have questions or concerns regarding family immigration issues, an experienced attorney is only a call or click away.
by Christopher Coble, Esq.