Politics & Policy

Trump Administration Announces Completion of Initial Family Reunifications

People caught crossing the border illegally in custody at the McAllen Border Patrol Station in McAllen, Texas, July 15, 2014. (Rick Loomis/Pool via Reuters)

The Department of Health and Human Services announced on Thursday that it has reunited all eligible immigrant children under 5 years old with the appropriate adults.

Fifty-seven of 103 children under the age of five in government custody were reunited with their parents or guardians as of Thursday morning, two days past the court deadline given to HHS by California federal judge Dana M. Sabraw.

The other 46 children were not reunited with the adults with whom they came to the U.S. due to either safety concerns or the deportations of the parents. Twenty-two of the adults had a serious criminal history or were in custody for other offenses. Another was accused of abusing the child they had transported here.

“Our agencies’ careful vetting procedures helped prevent the reunification of children with an alleged murderer, an adult convicted of child cruelty, and adults determined not to be the parent of the child,” read a joint statement by HHS secretary Alex Azar, Department of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The deadline for reuniting children older than five is July 26.

The nation has been roiled by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which has resulted in the separation of close to 3,000 children from the adults with whom they illegally crossed the southern border. The children are kept in government custody as the adults are prosecuted.

The president signed an executive order aimed at stopping the separations and instead detaining families together, but so far the government has struggled to reunite those already separated and, in some cases, has lost track of which children came with which adults.

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