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A woman, Maria, is reunited with her son, aged 4, at the El Paso International Airport after being separated for one month. Photo: Joe Raedle via Getty Images

The July 26 federal court deadline for the Trump administration to return more than 2,500 migrant children (aged 5–17) to their families has come and gone, and it is clear that the administration has fallen short of full reunification. According to a July 26 California district court filing, the administration has reunited only slightly more than half (1,442 of 2,551) the separated children with their families.

The big picture: The debate around family reunification failure is often perceived as one between restrictive and open immigration standards, but that is not the central issue. Rather, the question is to what extent the U.S. government should uphold a standard of competence and a commitment to basic human dignity in carrying out all its policy positions.

The details: The July 26 filing also indicated that more than 700 children had been classified as ineligible for reunification or "not available for discharge at this time." Poor record-keeping and a lack of clear process from the initial stages have made it prohibitively difficult to find some families and reunite small children, some of whom are younger than five.

The U.S. government has a responsibility to execute its functions — regardless of the particular policy in play — in an effective manner, which includes basic record-keeping as well as effective and clear communication with those impacted by policies. Likewise, in view of its history of championing human rights, the U.S. holds a moral and ethical responsibility to treat all people in the country — citizens or not — with basic human dignity.

The bottom line: The government can carry out tighter or looser immigration standards without sacrificing efficacy or violating human rights. These traditionally are not considered variables contingent on policy, but rather the premises upon which U.S. democracy operates.

Nicole Bibbins Sedaca is a professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

Go deeper

Fintech's record year

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Massive venture rounds into fintech companies have ballooned this year, pushing up total dollars invested — in just the first three quarters of 2021 — to nearly double the amount in all of 2020, per new PitchBook data.

Why it matters: The maturing of fintech startups means a growing number of companies are able to raise huge later-stage funding rounds as investors look to lock-in their bets.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Democrats' clean power outlook is very muddy

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Here are two big questions as a key Democratic proposal to slash emissions from power generation flounders: how much its demise would sap climate protections, and what might replace it.

Catch up fast: New financial carrots and sticks for utilities to deploy zero-carbon power — the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) — look unlikely to stay in Democrats' big social spending and climate bill.

1 hour ago - Health

CDC: Unvaccinated are over 11 times more likely to die from COVID

Expand chart
Reproduced from CDC; Note: Data represents 30% of Americans across 16 jurisdictions: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York City, Seattle/King County, Wash., Utah and Wisconsin; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The CDC recently published data evaluating Americans' rate of coronavirus cases and deaths by vaccine status, providing more data on which vaccines are working best and how much protection they offer relative to being unvaccinated.

What they found: As of August, unvaccinated people had a more than six times higher risk of testing positive for the coronavirus, and were more than 11 times more likely to die from the virus.