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After separating nearly 3,000 kids from their parents, the administration appears hellbent on keeping these families separated – undermining and disregarding court orders, withholding vital information, and ignoring the American people’s outcry. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans continue to twiddle their thumbs.
Yesterday, in the midst of a court hearing regarding the asylum case of “Carmen” and her daughter, ACLU managing attorney Jennifer Chang Newell discovered that the duo were in the process of being deported – despite a court mandated stay and a commitment from the administration.
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, outraged by the development, ordered the mother and daughter returned to the United States and threatened to hold administration officials – including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen – in contempt. Watch Rachel Maddow’s recap here.
Lest we forget, this is merely the most recent example of the administration’s disregard for the judiciary’s authority. We are now 15 days past the court mandated deadline for Trump and his accomplices to reunite all of the families, and, as a new Reuters report details, the reunifications have slowed “to a near halt.” In the past week, the government has reunited less than 20 children, bringing the number from 572 orphans to 559.
The slowed numbers are, unfortunately, no surprise after the news this week that the administration is purposefully hiding information – vital to tracking down deported parents – from the lawyers and the courts.
As ACLU’s Lee Gelernt explained:
“Now it turns out that the government has been sitting on potentially many, many phone numbers. We could have been calling these parents for the last weeks or months and they’re not turning over the information. And they have – the judge basically said, what are you doing? Get a plan, turn over information to the ACLU, they can try and help you. They can’t help you without the information, but you, the government, also need to take steps to find these parents. It was stunning, the position the government took.”
According to Pili Tobar, Managing Director of America’s Voice, “This administration has treated court orders with nothing but contempt, still withholding the necessary information to reunite children with their parents, sabotaging the reunification process and leaving over 500 kids potentially orphaned. What’s worse is that Republicans in Congress refuse to hold administration officials accountable for the crisis they created. Republicans needs to get serious about reuniting these families and holding the administration accountable, or we need to elect a Congress that will.”