A federal judge called on the US government to focus on finding deported immigrants’ parents so it could reunite them with their children who remain in the United States following separation by officials at the US-Mexico border in recent months.
The American government had confirmed that it had met a court-ordered deadline to reunite families separated during the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance policy” directed at discouraging illegal immigration.
US Judge Dana Sabraw said at a court hearing in San Diego the government deserved credit for the 1,820 children released from custody to a parent or sponsor, as reported by Reuters.
Nevertheless, he urged officials to focus on the 711 children who remain separated after the government considered their parents ineligible because they had been deported. The government was unable to find them in the United States or the parent had failed a background check. “The focus has to be on the parents removed without their children and the up to 52 parents released to the interior without their children,” Sabraw said at the hearing on Friday July 27th.
During the hearing Sabraw seemed most concerned about allegations that 120 parents who the government said had waived their right to reunification might have misunderstood what they were signing or felt coerced. The government has said it has given every detained parent notice of their legal rights and contact information for an attorney.
The parents were “effectively being tortured” by the knowledge they accidentally signed forms waiving the right to their child, Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said after the hearing.