The Trump administration said in a Thursday court filing that it has so far only reunited 364 of the more than 2,500 migrant children between the ages of 5 and 17 who have been separated from their families at the border under its “zero tolerance” policy. That news comes with less than a week left until their court-imposed deadline of July 26.
In the filing, the government also revealed that 719 out of 1,607 parents eligible for reunification face final deportation orders. That means they might be deported as soon as they are reunited with their children.
“That’s a pretty horrifying statistic,” Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of Immigrant Defenders Law Center, told NBC News. “We have had such limited communication with parents it was difficult to know where they were in their case.”
As parents, they’d have to choose between bringing their child back to the very country they fled or leaving them behind in the arms of someone else, like a nonprofit, relatives, or a foster family.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw put a temporary hold on deporting parents in response to a request by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU said without this protective measure, lawyers would not be able to provide legal counsel to parents before they had to choose the fate of their children.
Immigration lawyers also said some of these parents still have pending asylum requests, according to NBC News.