The government on Thursday announced that it had finished reuniting all eligible children under five years old, which it had forcibly taken from their families as part of the Trump administration’s separation policy. The reunifications were completed days after missing a court-imposed deadline issued last month by a federal judge in California.
According to data from the departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Justice, 57 of the 103 children under five included in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU in June. The remaining 46 children were “acknowledged by the the court to be ineligible for reunification,” the government explained in a press release.
Judge Dana Sabraw, who had ordered the reunification, initially set a July 10 deadline for the children to be returned to their families. As that deadline came and went earlier this week, the government admitted that it suspected at least one of the detained children of being a U.S. citizen. In its release on Thursday, the administration did not specifically address this situation, noting only that one child could not be reunified with their parent since the “adult’s location had been unknown for over a year”—the same description the government had used previously in reference to the possible citizen.
Some of the other children are apparently still being detained for what the government claims are “safety concerns posed by the adults in question.” Others could not be reunited until their parents—who had already been deported—could be reached by U.S. authorities.
Judge Sabraw, meanwhile, has not hidden his frustration with the government’s inability to smoothly reunite the children it tore from their families, saying on Tuesday that his July 10 deadline had been “firm” and “not aspirational.”
The administration, meanwhile, still has hundreds, if not thousands, of older children in detention facilities across the country. On Tuesday, Sabraw admonished the government, saying, “there is a lot of work to do.”