The request by the Trump Administration to receive a blanket deadline extension for returning immigrant children to their families has been rejected by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, according to CBS News. The deadline to reunite 101 children under the age of 5 with their parents is July 10, while a second deadline of July 26 has been set to return older children separated from parents at the border to their families.
The administration had said late last week that it needed more time, citing concerns about the children’s safety and the need to to confirm their parental relationships.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, denied a blanket extension, and said only exceptions would be made for individual cases that met defined parameters. He also issued an order for the administration to share a list of the 101 children with the American Civil Liberties Union by Saturday afternoon.
“The government must reunite them. It must comply with the time frame unless there is an articulable reason.”
According to The Hill, Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabian confirmed that the administration has so far matched 83 children to 86 parents, but 16 are not yet matched. A report from NBC News indicated that government lawyers on Friday claimed that the parents of 19 young children were already deported, and the whereabouts of parents of another 19 are unknown.
Thousands of immigrant children have been separated from their parents due to a “zero tolerance” Trump Administration policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in May. Parents and children are housed apart, with children being taken to various facilities, such as the Casa Padre in Brownsville, Texas, which houses 1,500 migrant boys aged 10 to 17, while parents are jailed, criminally prosecuted, and deported.
The administration switched course on June 20 after mass protests from both political parties, but over 2,300 children remain in holding facilities. CNN reports that HHS deputy director Commander Jonathan White announced that DNA testing is being used to verify family connections, and the administration argues that delays in reunification are a necessary evil to ensure the safety of the children and verify their parentage.
Executive director of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) Jonathan Ryan disagrees with the policy.
“This is really an invasion into the most intimate, private matter and data that we have on ourselves, our DNA.”
RAICES communications director Jennifer K. Falcon agrees.
“This is a further demonstration of administration’s incompetence and admission of guilt. This further drives home the point we’ve been saying: They never registered parents and children properly.”
According to PJ Media, 17 states and the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit against the administration over the child separations. One parent listed in court documents, Olivia Caceras, recounted how her 14-month-old son was returned 85 days after being taken, describing him as “full of dirt and lice — it seems like they had not bathed him.”
Earlier today, Inquisitr noted that Judge Sabraw had requested that lawyers for the Department of Justice and the ACLU be available through the weekend to reunite children under 5 with their parents, but DOJ attorney Sarah Fabian demurred.
“I have dog-sitting responsibilities that require me to go back to Colorado but I will be back Monday,” she said.
No news has been released on the list of children that the judge ordered be produced for the ACLU, which was due this afternoon.