Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Diana Jung Kim, right, and Homer Carroll, both from Houston, hug during a protest outside the U.S. Border Patrol Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas, on June 25, 2018.

David J. Phillip/The Associated Press

The U.S. government must rapidly reunite 63 children under the age of five who were separated by immigration officials after crossing into the United States from Mexico, or face penalties, a judge said on Tuesday.

Judge Dana Sabraw in U.S. District Court in San Diego told government attorneys he would not extend deadlines he set two weeks ago for the Trump administration to reunite the children under five with their parents by Tuesday and 2,000 other children by July 26.

“These are firm deadlines. They are not aspirational goals,” Sabraw said.

Story continues below advertisement

The government had asked Sabraw to extend the deadlines because it needed time to test DNA to confirm family relationships, run background checks, find parents who were released from custody and review parental fitness.

“Our process may not be as quick as some would like, but there is no question that it is protecting children,” said Chris Meekins, an official with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for the children’s care.

More than 2,300 children were separated from their parents after U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration began a “zero tolerance” policy in early May, seeking to prosecute all adults who crossed the border illegally. While parents are held in jail to await trial by a judge, children are moved into accommodation managed by an HHS agency.

Trump stopped separating families last month following public outrage and court challenges.

Around the country on Tuesday, social workers, lawyers and immigration advocates waited for information about the fate of children in their care. Some received welcome news.

Foster care placement provider Bethany Christian Services, which operates in Michigan and Maryland, said the seven children under five in its care had been reunited or had travel arrangements for reunification.

The judge asked the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit that led to his June 26 order, to file papers on Thursday suggesting remedies if the government had not reunited the 63 children by Tuesday “or within immediate proximity of today.”

Story continues below advertisement

“The court has a range of options from significant fines to other types of relief,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt.

One legal expert said fines amount to a “slap on the wrist” since the government would be paying itself. But a finding of contempt of court would be embarrassing and might lead to compliance.

“Nobody likes to be held in contempt of court,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, who teaches immigration and asylum law at Cornell University.

ACLU court filings have said the government is asking for needless provisions for reuniting families that would not happen if the families had not been separated in the first place.

Sabraw’s order included exceptions that might threaten the safety of the child. As a result, the number of children eligible to be reunited has shifted in recent days from as many as 102 as the government has discovered some people were not parents as they claimed or had criminal records.

Many of the immigrants are fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen met with diplomats from those countries in Guatemala on Tuesday to discuss U.S. immigration policies.

Story continues below advertisement

Some lawyers representing the children, who are in foster systems across the United States, said the government was not telling them what would happen to their young clients.

The Legal Aid Society in New York said it is representing at least two children under five who meet the judge’s criteria for reunification on Tuesday.

One boy, from El Salvador, was to be released to his mother, according to attorney Beth Krause of Legal Aid’s Immigrant Youth Project.

“I have no details about where, when, under what conditions,” she wrote in an e-mail on Tuesday morning. A Honduran boy would remain with a foster family while the father remained in custody, although Krause said it was not clear to her why.

Trump, who took his hard line policy on immigration to the White House from the 2016 election campaign, was dismissive of reporters’ questions about the missed deadline.

“Tell people not to come to our country illegally,” he said. “That’s the solution.”

Story continues below advertisement

Some of the separated families arrived at U.S. ports of entry seeking asylum, which is not illegal.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies