While the Trump administration woefully drags its feet on reuniting migrant children separated from their parents at the border, a federal judge has ordered officials to work with the American Civil Liberties Union to potentially return to the U.S. some of the deported parents to continue pursuing their asylum cases.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw on Friday said that claims that deported parents and their children had fled persecution and violence back home should at least be heard, and that the right to seek asylum is protected by the U.S. Constitution, the Associated Press reported.
“The court is upholding the rights provided to all persons under the United States Constitution, rights that are particularly important to minor children seeking refuge through asylum,” Sabraw wrote in a court order.
Sabraw ordered the administration and the ACLU to reach an agreement on returning deported parents to pursue asylum cases for both parents and especially the children.
ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt told Sabraw that many parents had been misled by government claims that they would be reunited with their children if they agreed to be deported, the AP reported. Gelernt referred to at least 366 parents who were deported without their children.
The order comes a day after Sabraw had extended a July 16 freeze on the deportations of recently reunified families, which he said violated the rights of the minors to seek asylum.
Also this week, a joint status report filed by the ACLU and the Department of Justice noted that 541 children ages 5-17 remain in U.S. custody, with only 18 reunited with their families over the past week, Splinter’s Paul Blest reported. The joint status report contains the most detailed data to date on the number of children separated from their parents.
The Trump administration has missed both of its court-ordered deadlines to reunify 2,654 migrant children with their parents. In late June, the court ordered the government to reunite all children 5 and under with their families within two weeks, and the remaining children by July 26. According to reports, about two-dozen children 5 and under still remain in government custody.
According to the AP, the government has reunified about 2,089 children with their parents or sponsors to date.