The Trump administration was ordered by a federal court back in June to reunite every one of the 2,654-plus migrant children it unnecessarily separated from their families by July 26. Unsurprisingly, it has not done that—and, in fact, the number of separated children has recently gone up.
According to new numbers released in a joint status report filed by the ACLU and the Department of Justice, 565 children still remain in government custody. Twenty-four of these children are 5 years old or younger.
The Trump administration was ordered by a federal court on June 26 to reunite all of the children 5 years and younger it separated from their families within 14 days, and all of the migrant children it separated from their families within 30 days. But the government has slowed almost to a stop in actually reuniting families.
As HuffPost noted, the government said that 572 migrant children were still in its custody in a report on August 2, which means that a net total of seven kids have been reunited with their families in the two weeks since. Another status report on August 9, however, said that at the time, approximately 559 separated children were still in the custody of ORR—meaning that if the new numbers are accurate, they’ve been revised upwards in the last week. (We’ve reached out to the ACLU for clarification on why that might be the case, and will update with any response we receive.)
Donald Trump signed an executive order to “end” family separations on June 20, which means that many of these children—including babies—have been separated from their families for months. In 366 of these cases, including six cases where the child is younger than five, the adult is “presently outside of the U.S.” That means, as NBC News’ Jacob Soboroff pointed out, that the parents have already been deported; earlier this month, the government argued that it wasn’t responsible for reunifying deported parents with their children, and that the ACLU should do it instead.
According to the report, a further 154 parents “indicated” a “desire against reunification,” although as the report notes, the government has not yet handed over data “regarding parents who declined reunification with children who are no longer in ORR custody.” (The ACLU requested that ORR produce this information by Wednesday, August 22.)
“It appears only 12 or 13 of over 500 parents have been located, which is just unacceptable at this point,” Judge Dana Sabraw said on a conference call following the release of the last status report earlier this month. “And it appears that there is not a plan in place.” According to the new report, the parties have a “telephonic status conference” scheduled for today at 1 p.m. PST.
You can read the government’s status report below.
Update, 12:20 PM ET: A spokesperson from the ACLU told Splinter in an email that the reason for the increase was due to the fact that the government “switched from reporting data ONLY for kids 5–17,” meaning that in previous reports, children younger than five were not included in the figure.
According to the new report, 541 kids aged 5-17 are still in ORR custody, meaning that the net number of children aged 5-17 reunited with their families over the past week was 18—just a three percent decrease.