Trump’s administration said that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) should bear the responsibility and use its “network of law firms, NGOs, volunteers and others” to find the more than 500 immigrant parents separated from children and deported without them.
But U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw said: “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.
In court Friday, Justice Department attorney Scott Stewart said while he believed more parents had been located, he couldn’t give numbers. They’re not sure if currently 12 or 13 deported parents have been located. About 429 of the kids are in custody and 81 kids have been released to other sponsors.
The government has refused to provide their entire case files of separated parents, but offered what the ACLU said was a non-exhaustive list from the Department of Health and Human Services. Trump’s camp had originally proposed that the ACLU share whatever information they found, including whether they wish to be reunited with their children.
Sabraw called the government’s lack of progress “just unacceptable” and ordered the government to appoint a single point person to oversee the reunification process, to submit a detailed reunification plan for deported and released parents, and to provide parent information to the ACLU on a rolling basis and complete it by August 10.
“Not only was it the government’s unconstitutional separation practice that led to this crisis, but the United States Government has far more resources than any group of NGOs,” ACLU attorneys wrote.
The deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and lawyer, Lee Gelernt, said that 95 percent of the parents who were deported without their children are from Guatemala and Honduras, and many are difficult to locate in rural areas.
Homeland Security’s Kristjen Nielsen has said all border patrol in the Southwest are bilingual, but overlooks Indigenous languages such as Q’anjob’al (also written as Kanjobal), K’iche’, Q’eqchi’, Akateko, and Ixil, and many of the two dozen languages that they don’t have interpreters for.
Sabraw asked the ACLU to establish a steering committee to oversee the efforts and to submit a plan for reunifications as well. Gelernt said they already had a task force of global law firms and Central American nongovernmental organizations ready.