No, the Government Did Not Make the Deadline to Reunify Children With Their Parents

The Trump administration claimed in court filings Thursday evening that it had met the court-ordered July 26 deadline to reunite the children it wrongfully separated from their parents. 

It did no such thing. 

In fact, what the government did was reunite upwards of 1,500 children it deemed eligible for reunification and whose parents it could find. Hundreds of children were not reunited for a variety of reasons. Some 463 parents were deported without their children — and the government isn’t even trying to reunite them — and the administration said it doesn’t know the identities of the parents of 40 children.

What’s worse, until last Friday, the government did not provide the ACLU with lists of the most vulnerable families in our class --- the ones who are at risk of imminent deportation. The lack of notification is particularly egregious because the Trump administration has said that it plans to immediately deport all of the parents who have final deportation orders once they are reunified, even though evidence suggests that many of those parents may have mistakenly given up their asylum claims. We and our allies are now working to get these families connected with lawyers, so that they can make decisions based on sound advice, rather than misleading or confusing information from immigration officers. 

In addition, the government provided lists claiming that 206 parents waived their right to be reunified with their children by either signing waivers or providing oral consent. The majority of these parents are now subject to immediate deportation. But on Tuesday, we filed a slew of affidavits showing that many of these parents desperately want their children back and did not realize they had relinquished their right to reunification. 

In some cases, the parents said the forms were not explained to them and that they felt pressured to sign. Some were not provided translation in their native languages and had no idea what they had signed. One said he was told that signing the form was the only way to prevent his daughter from being sent back to Guatemala.

Because of the confusion, the ACLU has asked the court to block any deportations for seven days after we are notified of reunification so that we can make sure families have the opportunity to meet with lawyers, are fully apprised of their options, and can make the decision that is best for them.

In our filing Thursday evening, we also asked the government to:

  • Provide all information possible on parents who were deported without their children so we can begin tracking them down. We want to make sure that all of them can be reunited with their children or make an informed decision to leave their children in the United States. If any of them were improperly deported, we believe they should be brought back to the United States.
  • Explain in detail what efforts are being undertaken to locate and make contact with the parents the government can’t find. That there are 40 children with no parental information is profoundly disturbing, and we want to know how this could have happened and what is being done to locate them.
  • Provide a detailed list of the reasons parents were deemed ineligible for reunification with their children. The government has alleged that some of them have criminal histories and a variety of other factors, but it has not provided specific information about the crime. While we agree that some crimes may make a parent unfit to be reunited with his or her child, clearly not all crimes do, so we need the details.

We will be back in court in San Diego on Friday afternoon. Rest assured: We expect this will be one of many more appearances before all of the families the government wrongfully separated are reunited.

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Dr. Timothy Leary

Is this in anyway suprizing ?


Thank God for the ACLU. Please keep up the good work. I'll support you as much as I can.


Don't thank God - guarantee he didn't create this disaster known as the American Criminal Liberties Union

Dr. Timothy Leary

If it wasn't for the American Civil Liberties Union we would not have Martin Luther King Day, it would still be Mayonnaise Day.

Dr. Timothy Leary

Mayonnaise! Yuck!


What's happened to these people seeking a better life in this country is appalling and aggregious -- I cannot thank the ACLU enough for your passion in the fight and everything you've done and will do to bring these children and their parents back together. Keep Up The Good Fight.

Susanne Gilliam

In a week as a volunteer lawyer for detained parents, I spoke with several dozen parents. I can tell you that with only one exception, these people were terrified in their home country. What they are seeking is asylum which is different from wanting a better life. Aslyum is an internationally recognized human right. It is the right to flee extreme threat in your home country and request safety in another country. It was not uncommon to interview parents that had to pull their child out of school due to threats, and those parents did recognize if the child could continue their education, the child had a much improved chance at a better life.

The bottom line is that they were fleeing *from* something, not fleeing *towards* something (a better life). One father crossed with his wife and 3 children, and she and the younger 2 children were released to their sponsor immediately. They have a baby due next week. When I asked if he realized his child would be born a US citizen, he said he did know that. And I’ve heard many stories over time that suggest people cross the border near their due date specifically so their children with be US citizens. But it was clear that was not this family’s reason because the father immediately inquired what benefit that might bring his new child. If he had been familiar with all the reasons why being a US citizen might be helpful to his child, then perhaps I would have mulled over whether they’d dragged their whole family across the border for the purpose of having their baby here. But that clearly was not the case, and he was heartbroken that it looked like he would not be with his wife for the birth of their youngest child.


First, these families wouldn't have been separated if they would have stayed in Mexico, instead of crossing into America ILLEGALLY. Why should we spend our hard earned money, paying taxes, for the U.S. to take care of criminals from other countries? Yes,they are criminals. They came here ILLEGALLY, that makes them criminals. Deport them as fast as possible, as a family. They don't belong here. All you bleeding hearts need to get a life, and worry about Americans first.


Oh bleeding heart of Jesus, redeem us from such sinfulness. With your sacred heart, bear our ignorance to give us salvation, showing us "the way, the truth, and the life."


First, most of these families aren't even from Mexico.
Second, it is a criminal act to litter. Should I take your children if you litter?
Third, if you really feel this way you have zero empathy and there is no reasoning with people like you. I will pray that you may never experience the things these people have had to experience, but maybe if you had, you would actually understand empathy.


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