Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The Trump administration has only turned over to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) the names of fewer than 100 migrant children under five years old that were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border as part of the administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy.
The ACLU said the Department of Justice gave them the list of names, as ordered by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw of the District Court for the Southern District of California. Judge Sabraw ruled the administration had until late Saturday (July 7) to release the list and until Tuesday (July 10) to define its plans for reuniting those children with their families.
There are close to 3,000 children of all ages covered by Judge Sabraw’s order. The government has until July 26 to reunite all other children separated from their parents by Trump’s zero-tolerance policy.
The Justice Department earlier requested a blanket extension of the July 10 deadline, claiming it needed more time to conduct DNA testing on some of the children to match them with their parents. The judge, however, denied that request, saying the government must comply with the deadline “unless there is an articulable reason.”
Trump has been severely criticized for his zero tolerance policy, which resulted in close to 3,000 children being detained separately from their parents who were arrested by agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency for crossing the border illegally. Children as young as one-year old are being forced to appear in immigration court, many without legal representation
On July 6, Judge Sabraw rejected the Trump administration’s request to extend the deadline to reunite families separated at the border under the zero tolerance policy.
The Justice Department requested an extension on the court-ordered deadlines, saying it needed more time to match 101 children under five with their parents using DNA testing. Justice Department lawyer Sarah Fabian said the administration had only matched 83 children to 86 parents.
The judge then ordered the Trump administration to share a list of the 101 children with the ACLU that originally sued to force reunification so both sides can determine which cases need more time.
“The government must reunite them,” said Judge Sabraw. “It must comply with the time frame unless there is an articulable reason.”
At a hearing in the San Diego case July 9, Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabian said the federal government is likely to have only about half the young children separated under the zero tolerance policy reunited with their parents by a court-ordered deadline this Tuesday.
She said 102 children under five years old were separated and 54 of them should be reunited by Tuesday. Sabraw set another hearing for Tuesday to learn why the remaining children couldn’t be returned on time.
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