US immigrants' reunification deadline passes, lawyers turn to deportations

28 July, 2018, 22:08 | Author: Diane Mills
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Judge Dana Sabraw spoke out a day after it was revealed that hundreds of families had still not been reunited after being split under President Donald Trump's controversial "zero tolerance" policy against undocumented migrants.

Separately, a US federal judge on Friday ordered the appointment of an independent monitor to report on conditions in federal detention centers housing immigrant children. Monday's filing indicates many parents may have been deported while their children remain in US immigration shelters.

Or so the government says. That approximate number includes hundreds of parents who were removed from the USA possibly without their children, children who were deemed "ineligible" for this court order, and parents whose cases are still "under review".

Danielle Bernard, a spokeswoman for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, one of two organisations working with the government on family reunifications, said her group, too, was feeling the time crunch of the court order.

Young said the fight for the children who are ineligible for reunification will continue. Another 378 were released "in other appropriate circumstances", including discharges to other sponsors or children who had turned 18 years old.

Those who remain separated from their children include Lourdes de Leon of Guatemala. "Indeed, as Adam Cox and Ryan Goodman have convincingly argued - and as cited recently by a federal court reaffirming an order limiting the detention of migrant children to 20 days - there is little proof that harsh immigration detention policies have had any deterrent effects".

The Trump administration insisted it would meet the court deadline by reuniting all of the family members that it deemed eligible for reunification. "If people don't want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them", Sessions said.

The government insists the deadline has been met, as the families of those remaining are ineligible for a variety of reasons, including unconfirmed family ties or parents with criminal records.

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Other parents who were illiterate or spoke only indigenous languages said they could not understand the forms they were signing.

The government said the deadline had been met however, because those families were ineligible, either because family ties have not been confirmed, or the parent has a criminal record, a communicable disease or can not be found. And Gelernt said the ACLU would go looking for all of the parents to determine whether they intentionally left without their children.

After first gathering at the White House, the kids and adults descended on Capitol Hill to demand lawmakers reverse Trump's edict and force family reunification. Another 538 parents have been cleared for reunions and are awaiting transportation, meaning that at least half of the separated families will likely be back together by Thursday's deadline. And even then, the damage to them, their parents and the United States' image in the world will not evaporate.

There were 2,551 children separated from 1,634 parents at the border, according to court documents.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the case against the government, said in Thursday's court filing that data showed "dozens of separated children still have not been matched to a parent".

However, he said the separations and the realities of the case remain "deeply troubling".

Of the parents still in the United States, 900 are already facing a final order of deportation.

Attorneys are also anxious about what happens to reunited families, who are either held in family detention or released as they wait for their immigration case to be tried.

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