The U.S. government told a federal court judge on Thursday that volunteers and non-profit groups, rather than government officials, should take the lead in locating more than 400 immigrant parents who were separated from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border and deported from the United States.
The proposal came in a San Diego Federal Court lawsuit challenging some 2,500 family separations initiated by the Trump administration as part of its “zero tolerance” policy to curb illegal immigration.
In the case, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the government to reunify the families by July 26, but that deadline was not fully met.
While more than 1,900 children have been reunited with their families, or seen their cases resolved in other ways, hundreds remain separated, including the children of more than 400 parents no longer in the United States, according to the government’s latest filing.
In its plan for reuniting those families, filed with the court on Thursday, attorneys from the Department of Justice said that the government would supply what information it had about the deported parents to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
At that point, the filing said, “plaintiffs’ counsel should use their considerable resources and their network of law firms, NGOs, volunteers, and others,” to establish contact with deported parents and determine their wishes.
The ACLU has repeatedly said that it would assist with efforts to find the deported parents, but the group made clear in Thursday’s filing that it expected the U.S. government to bear ultimate responsibility for locating them.
Most of the removed parents were returned to their home countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
“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,” the ACLU said in the filing.
The ACLU noted that the government seemed not to have addresses for some 120 of the deported parents. Government lawyers said they would need until Aug. 10 to go through the files of the children of those parents to find information that could help in the search.
Judge Sabraw will hold a hearing on Friday to discuss the ongoing reunification efforts. He is also expected to decide soon when to lift a stay that prohibits rapid deportation of reunited families.
Government lawyers told Sabraw last week that about 300 children were in family detention centers, and could be deported quickly once the judge allowed it.
The ACLU has argued that the reunified families need time to discuss their options with legal counsel.
A separate class action lawsuit recently brought in the District of Columbia on behalf of separated children seeks a separate stay on deportations. That lawsuit said that minors should be allowed to remain in the United States to pursue their legal rights apart from their parents.
The Trump Administration ended family separations in June, after weeks of international outcry over the policy.
Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Sue Horton, Toni Reinhold
‘Ridiculous’ for Trump’s team to ‘feed people this line’ that Ukraine didn’t know about the frozen aid: CNN contributor
President Donald Trump and his associates have recently tried a new defense for the Ukraine scandal, claiming that there couldn't have been a quid pro quo because the Ukrainians were supposedly unaware of the military aid freeze the Trump apparently ordered to force them to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
On Wednesday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," Washington Post journalist David Swerdlick and his co-panelists smacked down that narrative.
"The New York Times reports that the Ukrainians learned in early August that aid was frozen and they were told to reach out to the acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney," said anchor Wolf Blitzer.
Document reveals how the White House cheered up Trump after his meltdown at #MAGA rally in Dallas
Last week, President Donald Trump sought to shore up political support in Texas by holding a campaign rally in Dallas.
During the rally, Trump told the crowd how he hated it when his children told him what they learned in school.
The president also suffered a meltdown and offered the crowd his impersonations.
Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren on Wednesday revealed a note she'd received from the White House reading, "Tomi, thank you for everything. Best wishes."
‘Hard to overstate’ how badly Taylor’s testimony damaged Trump: Ex-federal prosecutor
On Wednesday, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wrote for Politico Magazine that the testimony of Ukraine envoy William Taylor was devastating for President Donald Trump — and that if he keeps trying to deny wrongdoing, it will only get worse and maybe even force Senate Republicans' hand against him.
"It’s hard to overstate how much damage the testimony of Ukraine envoy William Taylor inflicted on President Donald Trump’s defense in the ongoing impeachment inquiry," wrote Mariotti. "On its face, Taylor’s testimony Tuesday established the quid pro quo that Trump has denied for weeks. But more importantly, Taylor’s detailed notes of the 'highly irregular' policy-making that he witnessed over the summer provide a roadmap to future testimony that could be even more harmful. Republicans have already begun to retreat from their 'no quid pro quo' line, but they will have to keep retreating because Taylor has almost single-handedly decimated the few witnesses who have provided some testimony that is favorable to Trump."