The Trump administration identified 471 parents who were removed from the United States without their children, according to the latest court filing in an ongoing lawsuit.
At least some of those parents were deported “without being given the opportunity to elect or waive reunification” in accordance with a court order in June 2018 that required the government to better document waivers.
A Department of Homeland Security spokesman says prior to instituting the new waiver procedure ordered last June, separated parents were routinely asked by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and their home consulates if they wished to be reunited with their children before being removed to their home countries.
The revelation came in a filing in the family separation lawsuit Ms. L et al. vs. Immigration and Customs Enforcement et al. The administration has previously acknowledged that parents were removed without their children, but the latest report provides an updated count — which had been requested by the American Civil Liberties Union to serve as a baseline to better track reunifications.
The ACLU filed the case against the Trump administration last year on behalf of a Congolese woman, referred to as “Ms. L,” who was seeking asylum in the US and was separated from her 7-year-old daughter. The case was later expanded to a class-action lawsuit.
District Judge Dana Sabraw issued a preliminary injunction last June blocking most family separations at the US-Mexico border and ordering that those already separated be reunited.
Wednesday’s court filing notes that since the preliminary injunction was issued, the government has worked with a steering committee regarding the status of deported parents who have children remaining in federal care. The ACLU helped lead the committee, which reached out to all the parents who had been deported.
The filing also includes the latest numbers on reunifications.
As of Monday, 2,741 of 2,816 children have been discharged from government care, up six since the Feb. 20 status report. Four children are “proceeding towards reunification or other appropriate discharge,” according to the filing.