- ACLU lawyers said in a legal filing that they hadn’t been able to find the parents of 545 migrant children separated by the Trump administration at the US-Mexico border, NBC News reported Tuesday.
- The lawyers reportedly said they believed the administration had already deported about two-thirds of the parents to Central America without their children.
- Trump ended his administration’s family-separation policy in June 2018 following a public outcry, and a court ordered his administration to reunite thousands of families. Other families had already been separated under a 2017 pilot program.
- ACLU lawyers were among those appointed by a federal judge to help track down and reunite those families.
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Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union said in a court filing that they had been unable to locate the parents of 545 migrant children the Trump administration separated at the US-Mexico border, NBC News reported Tuesday.
The lawyers said that out of 1,030 families separated by the Department of Homeland Security, they’d been able to contact the parents of 485, according to the Fox News reporter Bryan Llenas.
Of the 545 they hadn’t yet reached, the lawyers cited information provided by the government to say they believed “approximately two-thirds” had already been deported without their children, according to the document.
“It is critical to find out as much as possible about who was responsible for this horrific practice while not losing sight of the fact that hundreds of families have still not been found and remain separated,” Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, told NBC News, adding: “There is so much more work to be done to find these families.”
DHS and the ACLU did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In June 2018, President Donald Trump signed an executive order ending his administration’s policy of separating migrant families following intense public outcry and multiple legal challenges. That July, a federal judge ordered the US government to reunite those families.
But NBC News also reported that summer that the Trump administration had already separated more than 1,700 families under a 2017 “pilot” program. In a separate ruling, a federal judge in California appointed lawyers from the ACLU and other organisations to a “steering committee” to help locate and reunite those families, according to NBC News.
The ACLU’s filing this week concerned families separated under the pilot program, which Justice in Motion, a member of the steering committee, has been physically searching for in Mexico and Central America, NBC News reported.
The Trump administration has faced intense scrutiny over its immigration policies, at times skirting legal orders requiring it to curtail family separation and other practices.