Judge Asks DOJ To Step Up Reuniting Families
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Photo by Megan Burks
A federal judge wants the Department of Justice to participate more in the search for the parents of hundreds of children it separated from them at the border.
U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw's remarks came as part of a status conference regarding the settlement that was supposed to end the government’s “family separation” policy at the border, which has run in some form since 2017 and has separated thousands of families.
“It seems to me that the preliminary injunction provides and directs all the various parties to come up with a system of communication, including DOJ,” Sabraw said in court, after the Department of Justice failed to share information with the steering committee that’s trying to locate the families as part of the settlement.
That settlement now also covers 1,030 more children than it originally did. These children remained in the United States after their parents were possibly deported, as part of a 2017 Department of Justice pilot program.
It has been mostly up to the plaintiffs, like the ACLU and its partner organizations, to find these parents. So far, they’ve contacted 485 parents, leaving 545 children still without contact from their parents.
The government says it believes that 359 of the 545 missing parents have been removed from the U.S.
The pandemic has slowed down the efforts of investigators and lawyers to be able to safely find the missing parents. But they say they’re slowly ramping up their efforts in Central America once again. In recent weeks, 47 additional parents have been found by the group Justice in Motion, since it restarted its efforts after a pause because of pandemic lockdowns.
The next status hearing, which will update the number of parents found, is set for Dec. 4.
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