After repeatedly failing to meet the court-issued deadline to reunite the migrant children with their parents, it appears the Trump administration no longer thinks it is responsible for tracking down nearly 500 parents who were deported without their children.
According to a recently filed court document, the Justice Department said the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a nonprofit organization at the forefront of several class-action lawsuits against the administration over the cruel family separations at the border, should use its "network of law firms, NGOs, volunteers and others" to find the parents with information provided by the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Plaintiffs’ counsel should use their considerable resources and their network of law firms, NGOs, volunteers, and others, together with the information that defendants have provided (or will soon provide), to establish contact with possible class members in foreign countries,” the department said in the court filing.
The ACLU, which is actively working to ensure migrants are afforded their due process rights to a fair hearing and access to legal help in immigration proceedings, said it’s eager to help locate the parents, but argued that the government "must bear the ultimate burden of 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 help),'" the organization wrote.
An ACLU attorney said they "hope that the government will take significant and prompt steps to find the parents on their own."
The advocacy group also complained the government was keeping the entire case files of separated parents from them, which they would need to track down parents.
They cited finding at least 12 parents who were already in contact with government officials, which was indicative of the fact the administration had contact information for some of the deported parents but didn't pass it along to the ACLU.
"Relatedly, plaintiffs believe that the government should be taking the initiative to continually provide plaintiffs with whatever useful information they possess, without constantly waiting for plaintiffs to request specific information, especially because the government knows better than plaintiffs what types of information are contained in various files and databases," the filing said.
Moreover, the administration also suggested the non-profit should consult the deported parents and determine if they wanted to relinquish their right to be reunified with their child.
The disagreement over the deported parents and the unwillingness of the administration to rectify the crisis, which was brought on by its malicious “zero-tolerance” policy, highlights the intensity of the situation and how arduous the process of reunification is.
Just this week, a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to the heads of the departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services, demanding information on the status of migrant families, including those where the parents have been deported.
"Unfortunately, the flow of information to the public and to congressional offices with important oversight responsibilities has been both incomplete and below acceptable standards," the senators wrote.
Banner / Thumbnail : REUTERS, Loren Elliott