Trump Administration Says All Eligible Migrant Children Under Age 5 Have Been Reunited With Their Parents, But Dozens More Young Children Remain Separated

Ever Reyes Mejia, of Honduras, carries his son to a vehicle after being reunited and released by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Grand Rapids, Mich. | Paul Sancya/AP Photo

The Trump administration Thursday said that all eligible migrant children under age 5 who were separated from their parents at the border were reunited with their families, but dozens more young kids remain separated — including some whose parents have already been deported.

“As of this morning, the initial reunifications were completed,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a joint statement. “The Trump administration does not approach this mission lightly, and we intend to continue our good faith efforts to reunify families.”

Thursday’s announcement came two days after the original court-ordered deadline to reunify the families of young kids. The Trump administration is facing a 6 p.m. Thursday deadline to convince U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw that it has complied with his court order.

The Trump administration said 57 of the 103 children under age 5 were eligible to be reunited with their families under the court order issued last month. However, the remaining 46 children weren’t eligible because their parents failed background checks or because of other logistical barriers, including deportation, officials said.

Administration officials also said they have “already begun a process” to reunite thousands of older children with their families. HHS last week said that it had custody of more than 2,000 migrant children that it separated at the border.

The ACLU, which brought the class-action lawsuit that led to the reunifications, criticized the administration to failing to reunite every young child and said it might ask the court to impose penalties. “[M]ake no mistake about it: the government missed the deadline” to reunite all eligible children by July 10, said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

It’s not clear how the 12 adults who have been deported will be reunited with their children. Officials from HHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement said they are working with consular offices abroad, and they contended the administration has limited authority to reunite those families.

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SOURCE: Politico, Dan Diamond