In a conference call on Friday, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw will consider competing plans for reuniting about 431 migrant children with parents the Trump administration deported after separating the families under its "zero tolerance" border policy. The ACLU, which successfully sued the administration to reunite the families it separated, wants the federal government to take "significant and prompt steps" to locate the deported parents and offer to fly them to the U.S. to meet with lawyers and pick up their children — or if the parents choose, fly the children to them within a week. The Justice Department has a different strategy.
The ACLU "should use their considerable resources and their network of law firms, (non-governmental organizations), volunteers, and others" to find and contact the deported parents, most of them back in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, Justice Department lawyers proposed in court documents Thursday. Once the parents are found, the ACLU would ask if they wanted to waive the right to be reunited with their children or get their kids back, in which case the U.S. would work with the relevant country "to determine how best to complete reunifications."
The ACLU was not impressed. "Not only was it the government's unconstitutional separation practice that led to this crisis, but the United States Government has far more resources than any group of NGOs," ACLU lawyers wrote. "Plaintiffs have made clear that they will do whatever they can to help locate the deported parents, but emphasize that the government must bear the ultimate burden of finding the parents."
Judge Sabraw gave the Trump administration until last week to reunite the 2,500 separated children with their parents; as of Wednesday, the administration said, about 1,900 children have been turned over to parents or "eligible" sponsors. He has ordered the government to provide written updates on the reunification process every Thursday, with a follow-up call on Friday.