Watch a mother and child reunite after 55 days

A Guatemalan mother was reunited with her 8-year-old daughter in Boston. The two were separated in early May, after crossing the Arizona border.

Posted: Jul 7, 2018 6:32 AM
Updated: Jul 7, 2018 6:32 AM

Just days ahead of a deadline, the Trump administration said it may need more time to reunite some of the immigrant families it separated.

A court order gives officials until Tuesday to reunite children under 5 years old with their parents.

But officials might need additional time to track down dozens of parents who are no longer in custody -- including 19 who were already deported, Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabian said in court Friday.

US District Judge Dana Sabraw didn't offer officials any extensions at Friday's hearing, saying he needed more information on the cases. Sabraw said the government must provide a list by 5 p.m. Saturday of all the children in the group and any reasons officials believe they may need more time for reunions in particular cases. Court will reconvene on Monday.

"What I'm expecting is a lot of work over the weekend," he said.

19 parents already deported

Friday's hearing was the latest in an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit over the administration's family separations. The case includes a broader group of thousands of other children and parents, but the hearing focused largely on the pressing deadline for children under 5.

The Justice Department attorney provided the most detailed description officials have released so far about this particular group of immigrant children who were separated from their parents. Of the roughly 100 kids, Fabian said:

• 83 kids have been linked to 86 parents.

• 16 kids have not yet been linked with parents.

• 46 of those parents remain in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

• 19 of those parents have been released from ICE custody.

• 19 of those parents have been removed from the United States.

• Two of the parents have criminal histories that will prevent officials from reuniting them with their children.

Fabian said officials should have no problem reuniting children and parents who remain in custody. But it's more challenging to reunite kids with parents who've been released from ICE custody, she said.

"If we're not aware of where the parent is, I can't commit to saying that reunification will occur before the deadline. ... We're still determining what the situation is there," she said, "and whether those are situations where reunifications may not be able to occur within the time frame."

After the hearing, ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said it was troubling that officials still can't provide precise statistics about families they separated.

"It was clear today that the government has not even been able to match all the children with parents," he said. "That is extremely troubling."

Debate over deportation

Several key issues came up in Friday's court hearing: whether the government is going overboard in conducting tests to confirm parent-child relationships, and whether the judge's order also applied to parents who'd been deported.

Fabian argued the judge's order didn't apply to parents who had been removed. Gelernt countered that it did.

"I think in some ways those are the most acute situations, the most horrible situations, because then you have a parent far away wondering, 'Where is my child? What's happening to this child?' " Gelernt said.

The judge said parents who'd been deported were included in his ruling.

Officials haven't provided statistics on how many parents were separated from their children and deported without them.

Fabian said Friday that officials have been marshaling "significant resources" as they work to comply with the court order.

But she said their efficiency is hampered by requirements in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which sets out requirements officials have to follow when they release children into someone's custody.

It's one reason, she said, why officials are taking such painstaking steps to confirm parent-child relationships using methods that include DNA testing.

In a court filing before Friday's hearing, the Justice Department asked if the court would permit reunifications outside of the ordered timelines "in cases where parentage cannot be confirmed quickly." Sabraw appeared open to considering an extension in some cases Friday, but said he needed more information.

He noted that the act was intended for a different situation, but also said the government raised an important point.

Gelernt argued the government does not have to follow such "lengthy, cumbersome procedures" to reunite separated families.

"It just doesn't make sense," he said. "You've taken a child from the parent. They need to give the child back."

Gelernt also took issue with the government's DNA testing, saying it should be used as "a last resort" and pointing to privacy concerns.

"It shouldn't be done in every case," Gelernt said. "But if it is being done in every case, we would ask that it be used only for reunification and then expunged, because I don't know that we want to be creating a database of all these people."

HHS releases new estimate

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar released a new estimate Thursday that fewer than 3,000 children remained in their care who could have been separated from their parents, but he said analysis was ongoing and he could not provide a more precise figure. The high number of families separated has been a result of the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy, which criminally prosecutes any adult crossing the southern border illegally.

The Health and Human Services Department has said the agency must determine that a "parent is not 'unfit or presents a danger to the child,' " which means the agency must also have "an independent finding that the individual has not engaged in any activity that would indicate a potential risk to the child," before reunification.

The agency's court filing contained a description of steps undertaken by HHS to comply with the court order, including deploying 115 additional personnel to the field and contracting with 100 reunification managers who are deploying Friday and Saturday.

The agency said it has expedited its existing process for reunification.

HHS also claimed in the court documents that it "knows the names and locations of all children who are in (Office of Refugee Resettlement) care and custody at all times because ORR maintains that data in its online case management portal," but says the portal was not designed to include certain details regarding the parents, which Department of Homeland Security may hold or the parent may have.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 544046

Reported Deaths: 7037
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1133801672
Ramsey46957847
Dakota41493415
Anoka37550413
Washington24418273
Stearns20651216
St. Louis16500296
Scott15592116
Wright14440124
Olmsted1260496
Sherburne1031779
Carver956143
Clay769089
Rice7454101
Blue Earth682140
Kandiyohi621879
Crow Wing596486
Chisago539948
Otter Tail535173
Benton521396
Mower447732
Winona435749
Douglas434270
Goodhue431971
Nobles396848
Morrison386359
McLeod383254
Beltrami366957
Isanti363959
Itasca359451
Polk359466
Steele349714
Becker346548
Lyon343748
Carlton324352
Freeborn321729
Pine306521
Nicollet300742
Brown291239
Mille Lacs272548
Le Sueur266222
Todd265830
Cass243826
Meeker229337
Waseca227820
Martin209729
Wabasha19803
Roseau194718
Hubbard168541
Renville168543
Dodge16834
Redwood163935
Houston161814
Cottonwood152520
Fillmore15089
Pennington148719
Chippewa143736
Faribault141819
Wadena141221
Sibley133210
Aitkin127436
Kanabec126121
Watonwan12439
Rock121218
Jackson114710
Yellow Medicine109019
Pipestone107525
Murray10169
Pope9936
Swift97718
Marshall84117
Stevens79610
Lake77819
Wilkin75812
Clearwater75614
Koochiching75612
Lac qui Parle73122
Big Stone5544
Lincoln5542
Grant5398
Norman5139
Mahnomen4898
Unassigned48778
Kittson44922
Red Lake3817
Traverse3595
Lake of the Woods2962
Cook1440

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 355246

Reported Deaths: 5797
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk55552598
Linn20170329
Scott18763234
Black Hawk15468306
Woodbury14792219
Johnson1387680
Dubuque13035202
Dallas1082796
Pottawattamie10627160
Story1024647
Warren549086
Clinton531989
Cerro Gordo519386
Webster506191
Sioux503473
Marshall476274
Muscatine455096
Des Moines439365
Wapello4246120
Buena Vista421240
Jasper406670
Plymouth394179
Lee366855
Marion353975
Jones292355
Henry285537
Bremer278260
Carroll277750
Crawford261739
Boone256331
Benton249155
Washington248249
Dickinson238743
Mahaska223449
Jackson217242
Kossuth211561
Clay208625
Tama206371
Delaware201039
Winneshiek192633
Page189320
Buchanan187331
Cedar182723
Fayette182641
Wright178835
Hardin178742
Hamilton177049
Harrison174673
Clayton165455
Butler161834
Mills157520
Cherokee156438
Floyd154542
Lyon153641
Madison152219
Poweshiek152133
Allamakee149051
Iowa144824
Hancock142734
Winnebago135331
Grundy134732
Cass133954
Calhoun133011
Jefferson130535
Emmet127340
Shelby126637
Appanoose126247
Louisa126049
Sac125819
Mitchell125241
Union123732
Chickasaw122015
Humboldt117926
Guthrie116828
Franklin112421
Palo Alto109622
Howard102622
Unassigned10040
Montgomery99737
Clarke98023
Keokuk94330
Monroe93228
Ida88533
Adair84032
Pocahontas83021
Monona80430
Davis79824
Greene76310
Lucas74822
Osceola73816
Worth7018
Taylor65012
Fremont60410
Decatur5899
Van Buren55318
Ringgold53322
Wayne51823
Audubon4929
Adams3264
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 25°
Mason City
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 29°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 27°
Austin
Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 27°
Charles City
Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 31°
Continued cloudy and cool conditions
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Sean's Weather 4/13

Image

Mayo Clinic physicians out in the community

Image

Alcohol Awareness Month

Image

Jake Braaten commits to SMSU

Image

Aaron's Overnight Forecast

Image

Protests continue in wake of Daunte Wright's Death

Image

CENTURY TRACK AND FIELD

Image

Testing sirens for severe weather season in Olmsted County

Image

Police investigating weekend shooting in Mason City

Image

Aaron's Evening Forecast (4/12/21)

Community Events