‘Eligible’ Children Under 5 Have Been Reunited With their Families, Trump Administration Says
Two days after the initial June 10 deadline, “eligible” migrant children under five have been reunited with their families after being separated while trying to cross the border, the Trump administration said, according to the New York Times on Thursday.
A little more than half of children under 5 years old—57 of the 103—have been reunited with their families. The other 46 were not “eligible” for reunification for a variety of reasons, the Times reports. Those reasons include: guardians having a past criminal background, the child not being related to the supposed parent, parents already being deported, or a parent currently being incarcerated.
As of Tuesday, it was unclear what the standard for “criminal background” is, according to Vox. The remaining 46 children are still being held by the government.
Around 3,000 children were separated from their parents at the border due to President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, implemented by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. That policy was overturned by an executive order after outcry from the public, civil rights groups, and politicians from both sides of the aisle.
On June 26, Judge Dana Sabraw of the U.S. District Court of San Diego ordered that children under five be released to guardians by July 10, and gave a deadline of July 27 for children five and over.
The process of reuniting children with families had been slow going, the government claimed, due to the vetting process under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, Vox reported. However, the ACLU, which sued the government over the policy, argued that the process could be streamlined.
At a hearing earlier this week, Sabraw “asked the A.C.L.U. to track the administration’s progress,” the Times reported, and the government had to drop their vetting process. Once the guardian was confirmed to be family, children could be reunified.
Many of the families crossing the border illegally are seeking asylum due to violence in their native countries.