On July 23rd we reported that:
“More than 450 immigrant parents who were separated from their children when they entered the United States illegally are no longer in the country though their children remain behind, according to a joint court filing on Monday by the federal government and the American Civil Liberties Union.”
Then on Thursday we reported that:
“The U.S. government told a federal court judge on Thursday that volunteers and non-profit groups, rather than government officials, should take the lead in locating more than 400 immigrant parents who were separated from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border and deported from the United States.”
“The ACLU has repeatedly said that it would assist with efforts to find the deported parents, but the group made clear in Thursday’s filing that it expected the U.S. government to bear ultimate responsibility for locating them.”
On Friday the judge in the case, Dana Sabraw, rejected the government’s request to make the ACLU take primary responsibility for locating the parents who were deported after they had their children taken away from them by U.S. border patrol agents. Judge Sabraw made very clear that in his opinion “the government bears 100 percent of the burden” of finding the parents of the kidnapped children.
Sabraw said the ACLU along with other nonprofit, non-governmental organizations, volunteers, and attorneys may assist U.S.government officials in their attempts to identify and find the parents who were deported without the children who the government took away from them.
But Sabraw said that the lawyers who are representing the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit don’t have primary responsibility because they did not take the children away from their parents in the first place.
“The reality is that for every parent who is not located, there will be a permanently orphaned child, and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration,” Sabraw said. “The government has the sole burden and responsibility and obligation to make reunifications happen.”
Sabraw said he was disappointed that only a dozen of the deported parents have been identified for possible reunification with their children. “That is not acceptable,” he said during the hearing.
Sabraw also said that he was displeased and unhappy that attorneys on both sides had not brought to him their detailed plans for speeding up reunification, which he had ordered to be done last week.
The family separations took place after the Trump administration adopted the now-abandoned government policy of “zero tolerance” for undocumented border-crossers, requiring them to be arrested while their children were taken away from them and incarcerated, often in unknown locations.
Most of the parents involved in the current case were deported to their home countries of either Guatemala or Honduras.