Parents of 303 children separated at US-Mexico border under Trump have still not been found

Reunification task force set up in June in an attempt to reunite families forcibly separated between 2017 and 2018

Gino Spocchia
Friday 24 September 2021 20:20

Thousands awaiting asylum at US border in makeshift shelters

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US authorities are still searching for the parents of 303 children who were separated at the US-Mexico border under the Trump administration.

Former president Donald Trump made aggressive immigration policies a hallmark of his time in the White House. Part of that was a policy of “zero tolerance” family separation – which saw asylum almost halted at the border, and the deportation of adults.

After Joe Biden entered the White House, his administration established a reunification task force in an attempt to reunite families forcibly separated by US Customs and Border Patrol between 2017 and 2018.

The task force announced in June that an estimated 3,913 children were separated from their parents, most of whom had left the US on Trump-era deportation flights.

US officials said in February between 600 and 700 children were still without parents, and since the task force began working on reunification, has reunited 50 families. More were reunited through court.

CNN reported on Friday that the number had been reduced to 303 children, according to a Justice Department court filing this week.

The search continues for 218 parents not believed to be in the US. Some 73 parents or caregivers are thought to be in the US but have not been traced.

NBC News reported that there is no information whatsoever for parents of 12 children.

In August , the reunification task force said it had identified “nearly all” children who were separated at the border. Some 337 children were still without parents then.

It means that parents of 34 children have been found in the past month.

The American Civil Liberties Union has criticised the Biden administration for being slow to reunite them.

Lee Gelernt, the lead ACLU attorney on family separation, said in a statement that the 303 figure “vastly understates the problem”, and that many families were still not together.

“We have not even located 303 families but hundreds of more families who we have located still remain separated,” Mr Gelerent told The Independent. “Our hope is that through our negotiations with the Biden administration we can quickly begin reuniting the families we have contacted.”

It comes as Mr Biden faces scrutiny for the handling of an influx of mainly Haitian migrants at the border in Del Rio, Texas, where as many as 16,000 arrived in recent weeks.

Many have been deported and others have been transferred to processing facilities after a week of chaos at a temporary migrant camp that was set up on the banks of the Rio Grande, which separates the US and Mexico.

The Independent has reached out to the Justice Department for comment.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press

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