Nearly 1,000 migrant children separated from parents since Trump told to end policy at border

Civil rights group demands court to request clarification for reasoning of separations from Trump administration

Chris Riotta
New York
Wednesday 31 July 2019 00:18 BST
Trump official Sarah Fabian tries to argue that detained migrant children did not need beds

The US has separated nearly 1,000 migrant children arriving at the nation’s southern border from their families despite a federal judge demanding Donald Trump’s administration curtail the practice last year, a new report said Tuesday.

At least 911 children were separated from their families between 28 June of 2018 — when US District Judge Dana Sabraw ordered an end to the practice, barring limited circumstances — and 29 June of this year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in its report published Tuesday.

The report said one out of every five of the migrant children separated from their families were under the age of five.

The government included a variety of reasons why the more than 900 children had been separated, alleging criminal conduct on the part of their parents, as well as gang affiliation, child safety concerns or apparent unfitness to serve as a guardian.

The ACLU requested court-ordered clarification as to how Mr Trump’s administration determines whether to separate families arriving at the nation’s southern border, with many of those migrants attempting to legally seek asylum, the Associated Press reported.

The ACLU has pushed back against the president’s hard-line immigration policies in the past, battling his multiple travel bans against several Muslim-majority countries and vows to build a sprawling border wall.

The report arrived as the civil rights group announced on Tuesday it filed a court motion to fast-track its lawsuit against the president’s border wall, describing Mr Trump’s emergency declaration on the US-Mexico border an “abuse of emergency powers”.

“We’re racing against the clock to prevent and undo the imminent harm [the wall] would create in our communities and on our democracy,” the ACLU said in a tweet.

The ACLU also noted apparent discrepancies in the government’s excuses for separating the 911 children from their families.

For instance, of the 44 separations involving accusations of assault, the ACLU said at least 11 did not include parents being convicted, while another 34 did not include details about the severity of the claims.

At least 678 of the separated children had cases where their parents were accused of criminal conduct, including at least one instance in which a parent was involved in a $5 (£4.11) theft resulting in their separation.

Mr Trump signed an executive order rolling back his policy that began the systematic separation of migrant families arriving at the southern border last year after a swell of nationwide protests. The administration is now working to complete the reunification of the more than 2,700 children separated during the weeks-long period in which his initial policy was implemented.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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