The federal judge overseeing the reunification of families separated by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy said last week that he is encouraged by a new government plan to reunite the 550+ children who remain separated from their parents.
“There’s no question the government has put in a great deal of thought into this,” U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw said at a hearing on Thursday (August 9), per Reuters. Sabraw added that the plan “appears to be a very good one, a sound one, at least from a broad-brush perspective.” Sabraw has been monitoring the government’s work since ordering the reunification of 2,551 children in late June.
Under the newly submitted plan, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State and the Department of Justice will work with non-governmental organizations to reunify families that remain separated.
The plan calls for Trump administration officials to work with foreign governments to locate the 386 parents who have been deported and reunify children with parents in their “country of origin.” Government officials told Sabraw they have already located 300 of the parents, but that they had no contact information for the deported parents of 26 children.
In addition to resolving safety and parentage concerns—tasks that will be spearheaded by HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement—the blueprint also calls for the government and non-governmental organizations to determine parents’ intentions regarding their children.
The government has called on the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which challenged family separations in court, to develop a form for parents who decide to waive reunification with their children, presumably so the minors can remain in the United States and apply for asylum.
Judge Sabraw reportedly gave the ACLU, which expressed concerns about the new reunification plan, the weekend to study the procedures and submit unresolved worries in court today (August 13).