Justice Department Will Miss Deadline to Reunite Families Separated at the Border, ACLU Says

July 9, 2018, 5:34 PM UTC

The Trump administration will miss a mandated Tuesday deadline to reunite migrant children with the parents, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego ordered last month that children under age 5 must be reunited with their families by Tuesday, July 10, and all other children by July 26. According to the judge, the government never properly planned a reunification process.

“Measures were not in place to provide for communication between governmental agencies responsible for detaining parents and those responsible for housing children, or to provide for ready communication between separated parents and children,” the judge said.

Late Sunday, the ACLU obtained a list of 102 children under the age of 5 from the administration. Based on that list, the organization said it “appears likely that less than half [of families] will be reunited” by the Tuesday deadline.

The U.S. Department of Justice asked a judge last week for more time to reunite the separated families. “The government does not wish to unnecessarily delay reunification” Justice Department lawyers told the court, according to NBC News. They added that the government intended to reunite families “in a manner that ensures the safety of the child.”

The Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy on undocumented people entering the country resulted in more than 2,000 children being forcibly taken from their parents. Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics called the practice a form of child abuse.

“It’s extremely disappointing that the Trump administration looks like it will fail to reunite even half the children under 5 with their parent,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt. “These kids have already suffered so much because of this policy, and every extra day apart just adds to that pain.”

The ACLU seeks to receive a detailed plan from the Trump administration for family reunification, including a timeline.