Federal Judge Calls Government Plan To Reunify Migrant Families 'Disappointing'


New court filings released late Thursday indicate that the Department of Justice and immigration advocates are still far apart in working out a process for reuniting migrant families who were separated under the Trump administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy.

A San Diego federal judge on Friday expressed frustration as he ordered the Trump administration to come up with a plan - quickly - for reuniting the remaining migrant parents and children who were separated at the border, saying the government is "100 percent responsible" for the fact that some 500 families remain separated. "In addition, because deported parents may be hiding from persecutors, it is often not easy to track down exactly where they may be located".

Cmdr. Jonathan White, the public health official who has led the reunification effort for Health and Human Services, told the senators that, while signing away reunification rights may be hard to fathom, "many parents have made this journey to deliver their children here because that is the desperate, last act of a parent trying to take the child out of some of the most risky places to raise a child in the world".

Sabraw said he was disappointed that attorneys on both sides had not brought him specific plans for speeding up reunification as he had ordered last week.

The judge said he would soon issue an order to compel the government to provide information on still separated families to the ACLU no later than August 10.

Of 2,551 children ages 5-17 who were separated from their parents, 1,979 have been released from shelters overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services' refugee office - almost 160 more than a week earlier.

The administration has since reunited more than 1,800 children with their parents, but hundreds of children remain in government shelters because their parents have criminal records, their cases remain under review or their parents are outside the country.

The ACLU had demanded that parents who want their children sent to them be reunited within a week.

A USA judge called the Trump administration's efforts to reunite migrant parents and their detained children "unacceptable", adding the government - not non-governmental organisations - is responsible for bringing them back together.

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The ACLU argued that shifting the responsibility from the government is unacceptable. It questioned why the government has not made that clear to date and hasn't made more progress on that front.

Sabraw, a George W. Bush appointee who has a mild and straightforward manner on the bench, has not threatened the government with any sanctions.

The government had proposed leaving it mainly to the ACLU and its allies to find the rest of the parents, including those who have been deported or whose whereabouts in this country are unknown, and verify whether they want their children back.

"Not only was it the government's unconstitutional separation practice that led to this crisis", the ACLU wrote, "but the United States government has far more resources" than nonprofits or outside law firms.

Earlier last week, President Trump tweeted praise for Sabraw without naming him.

In June, U.S. President Donald Trump ended the family separations after an intense outcry.

The ACLU wrote that "there is no blueprint for finding deported parents", who are scattered in various cities across Central America and who, in many cases, left behind minimal address information.

Gelernt also said that 95 percent of the parents who were deported without their children are from Guatemala and Honduras.

"What is absolutely essential.is that the government identify a single person of the same talent and energy and enthusiasm and can-do spirit as Commander White to head up the reunification process of the remaining parents", Sabraw said.