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The Trump Administration Continues to Drag Its Feet and Makes Very Little Progress in Reuniting Separated Families

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Despite multiple court orders, the Trump administration continues to drag its feet in reunifying the families it separated.  According to a report to the court overseeing this matter, very little progress has been made in reuniting the remaining children separated from parents, well after the court-ordered deadline of July 26.  Furthermore, in spite of court orders, the Trump administration continues not to share critical information to reunite all children with their parents and may be continuing its practice of obtaining so-called voluntary relinquishment of rights to reunification from parents and “voluntary” departure from children.  Worse yet, the administration may have failed to disclose additional separated children to the court.

559 children remain separated

The Trump administration missed a court-ordered deadline of July 26 to reunite families separated by the Trump family separation policy.  They failed to meet it for 711 children.  One week later they still had not reunited 572 children.  Yesterday, the Trump administration admitted it made very little progress over this past week – 559 children remain separated from their parents.

Parents “declining” reunification

According to yesterday’s report to the court, the Trump administration reported in July that more than 200 parents “chose” to relinquish reunification with their child.  Then, media reports began to emerge that many parents were misled into waiving their rights to family reunification.  The number has repeatedly changed in reports to the court – 130 on July 23, 120 on July 26, 34 on August 2 – suggesting irregularities.  According to yesterday’s report, the administration has failed to provide lawyers of parents with a clear list of these parents so that they may determine whether parents knowingly and willingly relinquished their right to reunification.   

Children “agreeing” to “voluntary” departure

In yesterday’s report, lawyers for parents said children are “agreeing” to take voluntary departure to be reunited with their deported parents in their home country, but the administration has not timely provided that information.  Given media reports of parents being misled into waiving their rights to reunification, the administration should promptly provide information to parents of lawyers so they may confirm claims by the government that children are knowingly and voluntarily seeking voluntary departure and not being coerced or misled like many parents were when they supposedly “waived” their right to reunification.

Failure to provide information for tender-aged children

According to yesterday’s report, the Trump administration has not yet provided contact information for deported parents and relatives of separated children ages 0-4, one month after the court’s order reunification deadline.  

Failure to disclose additional separated children

According to yesterday’s report, there may be “additional children—beyond the 400 already identified—who have been removed or whose parents have been removed” but have not been reported to the court.  

Trump administration insistence that they should make decisions on the best interests of children without oversight

The administration that cold-heartedly ripped families apart continues to claim it should make decisions in the best interests of children without any oversight.  In yesterday’s report, the administration said 87 children have parents with “red flags.”  Although some information has been shared with the lawyers for parents as ordered by the court, the administration has the audacity to “maintain their objection…that Plaintiffs are entitled to review Defendants’ exclusion of individuals from the class on the basis of criminal history…and object to the requirement that they continue to provide Plaintiffs with criminal history information” about parents of separated children.  

Basic constitutional, family law, and policy protect family integrity, even when there may be concerns of parental criminal history.  When a child is taken from a parent, parents are generally entitled to the information used to assess the danger or harm, a hearing, and in many cases counsel. Under the Trump administration’s family separation policy, the administration claims it shouldn’t have to follow these basic and well-established standards.  Instead, the government wants to claim a “red flag” without details, no oversight from a court, and provide no avenue for appeal, hearing, let alone counsel for parents and children.

Ur Jaddou, Director of DHS Watch, a project of America’s Voice, said:  “The Trump administration’s track record is more than appalling.  They cold-heartedly separated almost 3,000 children from parents against well-established principles of family law and very clear opposition from multiple medical professionals.  They had no plan to reunite these families, failed to meet court-ordered reunification deadlines and they continue to drag their feet every step of the way. These are children, many of them babies, and the Trump administration callously continues to fight tooth and nail to keep them separated from parents.  Someone must be held accountable and it begins with the secretaries of each of the agencies charged with implementing this barbaric family separation policy and ends with their boss – the President – who has callously facilitated the harm of children for a political agenda on immigration.”