4 Unanswered Questions Surrounding Trump’s Plan to Reunite Immigrant Families

With a federal court ordering Wednesday that the Trump administration must reunite separated migrant children with their families in as soon as 14 days, there are several unanswered questions that remain as far as how the administration will reunite families.

As there are over 2,000 children that will need to be reunited with their parents in the next two to four weeks, there are a number of details that need to be worked out in order to ensure that families are reunited by the court-issued deadlines.

In the pages that follow are four questions that remain unanswered regarding the complications the federal government agencies face as they reunite immigrant families.

1. Will they be able to reunite the families by the deadline?

Under the order of U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego, the administration will have 14 days to reunite children as young as five with their families, while the government will have 30 days to reunite all other children with their parents.

Some wonder if the administration will be able to meet this deadline. As reported, immigrant children who were separated under the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy have been taken into the care of the Department of Health and Human Services and have been placed in facilities or foster homes all over the country and are labeled as “unaccompanied alien children.”

In some instances, children have been held hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from their parents who are held in immigration detention centers near the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Department of Homeland Security stated in a fact sheet released last weekend that it knows the locations of all children separated during its “zero-tolerance” immigration crackdown.

The agency developed a process to ensure that all families are united for the purpose of deportation. The fact sheet, however, was issued before the court set deadlines this week to reunite the families.

As CNN reports, previous policy put the responsibility on parents to locate their children in HHS custody. Activists have raised concern about how in some cases, it has taken weeks for parents to locate their children.

After Trump signed an executive order last week halting the practice of separating immigrant children from their parents with exception to certain circumstances, HHS spokesman Kenneth Wolfe stated that the “the sponsorship process will proceed as usual.” However, a department spokesperson later clarified that Wolfe “misspoke” and that the department was waiting for guidance on how to proceed.

NPR reports that there have been instances in which parents have asked about their children and HHS has not been able to immediately locate them. In some cases, parents or activists have had to do extra digging on their own to locate the child without much help from the department.

In the case of one family interviewed by NPR, it was clerical errors that prevented the government from being able to locate the mother’s child initially.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar didn’t tell Congress on Tuesday how long it would take for the administration to reunite families, adding that the HHS does vetting to ensure that the adults are actually parents and not traffickers.

2. How will they detain families?

That is a question that even some within the administration are asking themselves right now.

As the administration is looking for ways to keep families together in detention facilities, HHS sent a request to the Department of Defense on Wednesday to help identify available facilities that could be used for housing and caring for “an alien family population of up to 12,000 people.”

The request also asked the Defense Department to look for land on military bases to build semi-separate, soft sided camp facilities capable of sheltering up to 4,000 people at three separate locations, preferably in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico or California.

The news came days after CNN reported that DHS had plans to ask the Defense Department to house about 7,000 children at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas and 4,000 family members at Fort Bliss.

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Source: Christian Post