San Diego, USA, Jul 24 (EFE).- A federal judge on Tuesday expressed his confidence that the government of the United States will comply with the court order regarding the reunification of more than 1,600 immigrant families within the deadline, but expressed concern over the parents who had already been deported without their children.
At a follow-up hearing of the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the US government, lawyers of the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicated on Tuesday that 1,012 children between 5 and 17 years of age have been returned to their parents, while an unspecified number of the remaining children have been sent to their relatives.
San Diego-based District Judge Dana Sabraw set Jul. 26 as the deadline for the government to return more than 2,500 undocumented children between the ages of 5 and 18 to their parents, but lawyers for the administration of US President Donald Trump said that only 1,634 of them are eligible for reunification.
In a document presented to the court on Monday, government lawyers gave an account of 463 immigrant parents who are no longer in the US and who were separated from their children after being apprehended on the border with Mexico as a result of the “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration adopted by the Trump administration.
The lawyers assured on Tuesday that these parents are not in the country, either because they were deported or left voluntarily without their children, a situation described by Sabraw as a “troubling reality”.
The magistrate requested that a list of these immigrants be submitted along with details on the country to which they were deported in order to establish eventual reunification.
On Jul. 16, Sabraw ordered the government to temporarily halt the deportation until Jul. 23, so that these undocumented immigrants would have more time to determine their options, but he later decided to extend the deadline to Jul. 25.
In a document handed in on Tuesday to the court, the federal government rejected the court order on the grounds that the additional waiting period would create insufficient space problems in detention centers and cause “inefficiencies” in the system.
David W. Jennings, acting assistant director at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said the longer time frame would also “increase costs, and significantly hamper ICE’s efforts to expeditiously enforce removal orders”.