WORLD 700 separated children still in US custody after deadline

WORLD

700 separated children still in US custody after deadline

AFP

09:03, July 27, 2018

The US government said Thursday that hundreds of families it broke up at the border with Mexico have not been reunited as a court-ordered deadline to return all children to their parents elapsed.

A federal judge in California had ordered that all eligible migrant families be brought back together by 6:00 pm (2200 GMT) and officials said in a court filing that 1,442 children aged five and older had been reunited with their parents.

"The reunification plan outlined to the court... is proceeding, and is expected to result in the reunification of all class members found eligible for reunification at this time by the court's July 26, 2018 deadline," the government said. 

A further 378 children had already been released under other "appropriate circumstances," the filing added, but more than 700 children remain in custody.

The government said the deadline had been met however, because those families were ineligible, either because family ties have not been confirmed, or the parent has a criminal record, a communicable disease or cannot be found.

The controversial separations began in May, when migrants entering illegally were detained en masse, and their children taken to detention centers and shelters.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit to reunite the families, said earlier Thursday that the government was manipulating the figures to give a false impression of success.  

"These parents and children have lost valuable time together that can never be replaced. We're thrilled for the families who are finally reunited, but many more remain separated," Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said in a statement.

"The Trump administration is trying to sweep them under the rug by unilaterally picking and choosing who is eligible for reunification. We will continue to hold the government accountable and get these families back together."

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