The Trump administration said Thursday it will largely be up to immigrant-rights advocates to track down deported parents who want to be reunited with their children still in the U.S.
While the government has reunified all the eligible parents it had in its custody who were separated from children during the zero-tolerance border policy, hundreds of children whose parents were already deported remain separated.
A federal judge, government officials and activists are trying to figure out how to handle them — and the administration offered its ante in court papers, saying the American Civil Liberties Union should “use their considerable resources” to track those parents down.
The government said it will offer to help with information, and will contact foreign governments, but said it will be up to the ACLU to contact the deported parents and find out if they want to be reunified.
The ACLU countered that the administration must be the ones on the hook for finding the parents.
“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 (no matter how many NGOs and law firms are willing to try to help),” said the ACLU, which is defending the parents in the California lawsuit that’s controlling the family reunification process.
The ACLU said government records are so bad that at least 120 deported parents have no valid address listed for where they might be.
Other times there are streets with no residence number, limiting the usefulness.
The ACLU said it believed the government may be withholding working phone numbers for deported parents.
Judge Dana Sabraw will have to settle the dispute, just as he did the reunification plans for about 2,500 children separated from parents because of immigration enforcement.
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