Updated Jul 26, 2018 - Politics & Policy

Where the 2,600+ separated migrant children are now

The Trump administration has reunified 1,442 of the original 2,551 migrant children between the ages of five and 17 with their parents by the court-ordered deadline of today, according to the latest court filing.

Of the 103 migrant children under five, all eligible children have been reunited with their families, leaving 47 who have been deemed ineligible. The chart below displays what we know about where the children are, based on the latest court filings from the Justice Department:

Data: Joint Status Reports from U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, Ms. L vs. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios
Data: Joint Status Reports from U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, Ms. L vs. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

What's new: 20 kids were determined to not have been separated from their parents, lowering the overall number of kids between 5 and 17 needing reunification to 2,531.

  • 378 children were released from HHS custody either to their parents who were no longer in ICE custody, to other caretakers who had not crossed the border illegally with the child — such as other parents and family members already in the U.S. — or because the child turned 18.
  • For 79 children, their parents had been released and were "unavailable for discharge" at the time.
  • Only 223 of the reunited family units are currently being held in ICE detention centers.

Why it matters: The federal judge overseeing the process is likely to find the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Service in compliance with the court order, as he did with the under five-year-olds earlier this month. However, there are still hundreds of minors separated due to safety concerns or because their parents are no longer in the country.

Be smart: There was no penalty laid out by the court for the government if it did not meet the deadline. But government officials tell Axios they will continue to reunite families when possible, and look for suitable sponsors to care for any remaining kids. They expect to reunite all eligible families by the deadline.

Children are deemed "ineligible" for reunification in instances where:

  • The parent has a criminal history or is wanted in a foreign country.
  • The person claiming the child is found to not be the parent.
  • The parent chose not to be reunified with their child — as is the case with 130 kids between the ages of five and 17.
  • The parents are in U.S. criminal custody.
    • As of the last update on separated migrant children under five, there were 11 parents in criminal custody. There were no parents of five-17 year olds still in custody as of the last court filing earlier this week.
  • The child makes accusations of abuse against the parent — one child under five did this.
  • The parents have a communicable disease — one parent of an under five-year-old had one, and court filings explained they would be reunited after the parent healed.
  • The living situation is deemed unsafe — one parent had planned to stay with a person with an outstanding warrant for aggravated criminal sexual abuse against a 10-year-old girl.

One big question: What happens to the kids whose parents have already been deported?

  • While some parents elected not to be reunited with their kids and have been read their rights in a language that they understand, according to a DHS official, it's uncertain what will be done about other parents who have been deported.

Note: For the 463 parents of five-17 year olds "not in the U.S.," court filings explain that this is still under review and it has not been officially established that all were deported.

What they're saying: Immigrant activists have already criticized the government's process in deciding which children should be reunified:

"No one should forget that the government’s claim that it will meet the reunification deadline is based on its exclusion of parents it has deported or can’t locate, as well as on its unilateral, unchecked decision of who is eligible to be reunited or not."
— Lee Gelernt, the lead attorney in ACLU's lawsuit challenging the family separation policy, said in a statement on Monday.

What's next: DHS will continue to attempt to reunify families who are eligible, and HHS will continue to search for suitable sponsors to care for the migrant children in its custody.

Editors note: This story has been update to reflect the latest data.

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