Federal officials said today that they had reunited 57 of 103 young migrant children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border largely as part of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy on suspected illegal crossings, but they have not returned an additional 46 for cited reasons including deportation and criminal histories of some of the adults.
The government began its first major wave of reuniting migrant children with their parents on Tuesday, the deadline set by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw for those children younger than 5. Sabraw ordered the reunifications after a class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Of 103 children younger than 5 who were covered by the court case, 57 had been reunited as of 7 a.m. EST, officials said. Forty-six were “acknowledged by the court to be ineligible for reunification or determined by HHS, DHS and DOJ to be ineligible under court-approved criteria.”
The judge also threw out policies that called for background checks of other adults in the household, establishment of a care plan, and home visits — unless officials have specific concerns they can explain and justify. Criminal background checks will still be run on the parents.
Twenty-two of the 46 remaining children were declared ineligible for reunification because of safety concerns posed by the adults in their cases, including serious criminal histories and adults determined not to be a parent, according to HHS.
Eleven adults have serious criminal histories, including charges or convictions for child cruelty, kidnapping, murder, human smuggling and domestic violence, according to HHS. Seven adults were determined not to be a parent, one had a falsified birth certificate, one was alleged to have abused the child, one planned to house the child with an adult charged with sexually abusing a child and one is being treated for a communicable disease, according to HHS.
An additional 24 children were declared not eligible because of various circumstances of the adults, 12 have been deported, nine are in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, two are in the custody of state jails and the location of one has been unknown for over a year.