The Trump administration is arguing in court that it would be too “traumatic” for immigrant children taken from their parents to be reunited, claiming it might present “grave child welfare concerns” for the children to be taken from their temporary homes.
The administration has been under fire for its policy of taking immigrant children from their parents and placing them in detention centers, and continues to draw criticism for its slow and stilted efforts to reunite those children with their families.
As the Associated Press reported, the administration is now arguing in court that it could be “traumatic” for those children to be reunited with their parents again and that it would take “extraordinary effort” for the administration to do so.
“It would destabilize the permanency of their existing home environment, and could be traumatic to the children,” Jonathan White, the Trump administration official tasked with leading the efforts to reunite separated children with parents, argued in court.
The administration also argued that its focus should be on reuniting children currently being held in detention facilities, not those who were sent to live with sponsor families.
The argument came just days after a government report said that the Trump administration separated thousands more migrant children than had been previously made public. The report, which was issued by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, also noted that there was no one in the Trump administration even keeping count of how many children had been separated until after a lawsuit filed last year.
As the Washington Post reported, officials had only an estimate of the number of children taken based on “informal tracking” by Health and Human Services.
Troubling that the government LIED … “The HHS IG report revealed that "thousands" more children had been separated than previously acknowledged by the government.”
— MOTR Politics (@MOTRPolitics1) February 2, 2019
Critics seized on the report, with the American Civil Liberties Union releasing a statement saying that the HHS report “reaffirms that the government never had a clear picture of how many children it ripped from their parents.. . . We will be back in court over this latest revelation.”
Donald Trump had come under worldwide criticism after officials went public with the “zero tolerance” policy that had immigrant children separated from parents and put into detention centers. Trump initially argued that it was the fault of Democrats for not addressing immigration, but critics pointed out that the policy to separate children did not exist before his administration, and that previous administrations only put children in detention centers if they crossed the border unaccompanied by a family member.