U.S. Says It Could Take 2 Years to Identify Up to Thousands of Separated Immigrant Families – The New York Times

About 2,800 children have been reunified with their families or situated according to their parents’ wishes, said Lee Gelernt, who challenged the policy in court on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The January report, by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, revealed that a group of separated families was unaccounted for because the government lacked an effective tracking system. In March, Judge Sabraw ruled that those families should be included in the litigation.

Mr. Gelernt said this identification process should take months, not years. “If the government believed finding these children was a priority, they could do it quicker than two years,” Mr. Gelernt said.

The families the government may now be tasked with locating are those who entered the United States on or after July 1, 2017, the earliest known date that families were separated; were detained by immigration officials; and have a child who was detained and then released to a sponsor, such as a relative, before the judge’s reunification order on June 26, 2018.

When the government previously identified children for reunification, it included only the children who were detained at the time of the reunification order.

Judge Sabraw wrote in his March 8 order that because all of these families had been subjected to the same policies and had been separated under “questionable circumstances,” they should have the same opportunity for relief. Although identifying the families may be burdensome, as the government argued, “it clearly can be done,” the judge wrote.

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