Dozens of migrant children remain separated from their loved ones because of President Donald Trump’s family-shattering “zero-tolerance” policy, the government acknowledged in a court filing Thursday.
As of Nov. 29, 173 children torn from their parents and relatives because of zero tolerance were still in federal custody, Justice Department lawyers said in a status update filed at southern California’s U.S. District Court.
Eight of the minors are “not eligible” for reunification because their parents are either in federal custody or outside of the U.S., according to the government lawyers.
The lawyers said another 102 children have parents whose “intent” is “not to reunify;” 30 have parents who pose a “danger” to them and 33 were not separated by the government.
Even though Trump rescinded zero tolerance in June amid international outrage, the administration has struggled to reunify the separated kids with their families.
U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the government had to reunite all migrant families affected by zero tolerance by July 26. The government failed to meet the deadline and has since scrambled to reunite the shattered families.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit resulting in the government being ordered to reunify the split up families, hinted in Thursday’s status update that it would like to see Sabraw punish the administration over the latest delay.
“This Court has broad equitable authority to order any relief it deems just and proper to remedy the harms caused by Defendants’ violations of constitutional rights,” ACLU attorneys said in the filing.
The zero-tolerance policy, which was announced in May and reversed in June, instructed officials to criminally prosecute all illegal border crossings, resulting in adults being taken into federal custody while any accompanying children were placed in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services.
More than 2,400 children were torn from their families before Trump begrudgingly signed an executive order ending the practice.
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