The US government on Thursday said 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 6pm 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.
However, the government said the deadline had been met, as 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 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which brought the lawsuit to reunite the families, earlier on Thursday said 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,” Gelernt said.
The deadline is seen as turning a page on the scandal, but the turmoil is barely beginning for many families that now face life-altering decisions, including whether or not to agree to long-term separations, rights advocates and lawmakers say.
Lawyer Efren Olivares of the Texas Civil Rights Project, which represents some parents, said the US treatment of migrant families had been marked by “chaos and cruelty,” and that officials’ rush to reunite parents and children lacked organization.
As the deadline neared, dozens of families with children gathered for a sit-in on Capitol Hill, while Democratic lawmakers blasted US President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” border policy as un-American.
The separations triggered outrage in the US and abroad, especially after the release of audio of small children in shelters crying for their parents, many of whom fled turmoil and gang violence in Central America.
The pressure led to the president demanding an end to the separations six weeks later. Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego then ordered the reunifications, setting Thursday as the deadline.
Yet the pace has been slow: Children and parents are being housed in different parts of the country, while many adults have been deported.
Government data indicates that the parent or parents of more than 430 children might already have been deported, some of them voluntarily — enormously complicating any possible reunion.
Democratic lawmakers who recently visited detention facilities near the border have accused the administration of continuing to separate families and disputed the government’s characterization that parents were voluntarily leaving their children.
“Nobody chooses to be separated, unlike what this administration is saying,” US Senator Catherine Cortez Masto said.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has submitted court documents containing testimony from parents who say they were coerced into signing off on their deportations.
“In nearly all of the cases we’ve seen, government officials used threats, false promises, misinformation and other coercive tactics,” AILA president Anastasia Tonello said in statement. “The government’s conduct calls into question whether any of these parents understood what they were agreeing to.”
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,
Former US vice president Joe Biden on Friday said he “should not have been so cavalier” after he told a radio host that African Americans who back US President Donald Trump “ain’t black.” In a call with the US Black Chamber of Commerce that was added to his public schedule, Biden said he would never “take the African American community for granted.” “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden said. “No one should have to vote for any party based on their race or religion or background.” Biden faced criticism after his comments earlier on Friday on The Breakfast Club, a