U.S., ACLU divide on how to reunify separated families

Mandel Ngan  AFP via Getty Images President Donald Trump speaks at a political rally in Wilkes-Barre Pa. Aug. 2 2018

Mandel Ngan AFP via Getty Images President Donald Trump speaks at a political rally in Wilkes-Barre Pa. Aug. 2 2018

The Trump administration on Thursday reportedly told a federal judge they shouldn't be responsible for finding migrant parents who were deported after being separated from their children under President TrumpDonald John TrumpPro-Trump pastor: Trump is "the most pro-black" president I've ever seen Trump renews calls for interview with Mueller: report CNN's Acosta: Hannity is "injecting poison into the nation's political bloodstream" MORE's controversial "zero-tolerance" policy.

The American Civil Liberties Union is balking at a request from the federal government to track down the deported parents of an estimated 431 children who remain in the US.

"Plaintiff's counsel should use their considerable resources, and their network of law firms, NGOs, volunteers and others, together with the information that Defendants have provided (or will soon provide), to establish contact with possible class members in foreign countries".

The government said it will offer to help with information, and will contact foreign governments, but said it will be up to the ACLU to contact the deported parents and find out if they want to be reunified.

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In addition, ACLU attorneys said they "hope that the government will take significant and prompt steps to find the parents on their own".

But the ACLU is asking Sabraw to give parents the additional option of flying back to the U.S.to consult with lawyers and their children, a proposal that Trump administration officials have refused.

A court previously ordered the government to reunite the migrant families by last Thursday, but hundreds of children still remain separated from their parents. That prompted the government to separate them from their children, due to a USA law and a 1997 court settlement, known as the Flores Consent Decree, that limits the detention of children to no more than 20 days. Even among the viable addresses, some include only a city name or are listed as "calle sin nombre", or "street without a name".

The government was given a deadline of last week to reunited children eligible for reunification, and said that it had returned the 1,800 eligible children.

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The policy was widely condemned and the president signed an executive order ending the practice in an attempt to mitigate the problem. Once a parent chooses to reunite with a child, the ACLU asked that the government reunite the family within seven days.

Lawyers on both sides are now at odds over whether the government has met the judge's deadlines, and whether the government is doing enough to reunite parents who have been deported.

On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of senators grilled administration officials over the family separation crisis. During the hearing, a senior Department of Health and Human Services official said he repeatedly warned the Trump administration that the separation policy would not be in "the best interest of the child".

"Unfortunately, the flow of information to the public and to congressional offices with important oversight responsibilities has been both incomplete and below acceptable standards", the senators wrote.

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The government also wants these groups to determine whether separated parents want to be reunited with their children - and to facilitate all the paperwork.

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