With three days to go before a court-imposed deadline, the federal government has reunited or otherwise resolved cases for just under half of the 2,551 children ages five and older split from their parents at the border, according to a Monday court filing.
The government reported 1,187 reunifications “or other appropriate discharges.” Those children were reunited with 879 parents who were still in immigration detention when the government was ordered to put the families back together.
More than 500 parents have been “green-lighted” and are waiting for their children to be returned to them. When the families were separated, the children went to facilities all over the U.S. meant for unaccompanied minors who come to the border alone. That means some reunifications take longer than others because of transportation time.
The filing is the latest in a class-action lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union in February on behalf of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in June ordered the Trump administration to reunify families starting with children under age five.
About 130 parents told immigration officials during an interview as part of the process that they did not want to be reunited with their children before going back to their home countries.
ACLU attorneys have been pushing the government for a list of these parents, and in Monday’s court filing called for the administration to give them an updated list.
“These parents urgently need consultations with lawyers, so that they do not mistakenly strand their children in the United States,” the ACLU attorneys wrote in the court filing.
The government said in the filing that it would provide an updated list Tuesday. The ACLU attorneys asked the judge for an order to ensure that happens.
Another 217 parents were already released into the U.S., according to the court document, and the government is currently reviewing cases for 463 parents that it believes are no longer in the U.S. and were most likely deported.
The ACLU attorneys also asked for a list of deported parents. The government agreed to give them the list by last Friday, but in Monday’s filing government attorneys argued that they needed more time.
“Some of this information is still under review,” they said in the filing.
The government said 64 parents didn’t qualify to be reunited with their children because they had significant criminal histories or were otherwise “deemed ineligible.”
The government worked past the two-week deadline given by the judge to reunite the toddlers with their parents and then began on the larger, older group.
Thursday is the deadline for bringing all of the children in that group back to their parents.
Sabraw repeatedly criticized the government’s lack of planning for family reunification early in the process. On Friday, he praised the government’s progress toward the final deadline.
Last week, following an ACLU request, Sabraw put a temporary order in place preventing the government from deporting families right after they are reunited. The government plans to file again Tuesday morning to argue against that decision, and Sabraw will hold a hearing in the afternoon over the matter.
According to the court filing, 900 parents have already been ordered deported.
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