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Government Officials Report That Reuniting Separated Families Will Take Two Years

It has been almost a year since a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to end their “zero-tolerance” policy. The administration was instructed to reunite all families within a month, yeat hundreds of families remain separated. We know that some forms of separation between child and parent are still happening at the border and we are now learning that the government needs more time to reunite families cruelly separated.

The government says they didn’t keep track of the thousands of families that were separated before their “zero-tolerance” policy began in early 2018.

According to The New York Times, officials have to sort through an estimated 47,000 children “who were referred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement and subsequently discharged.”

However, the main issue is that because so many undocumented children have gone through the system, the kids before Trump’s policy and after are all mixed up. It is hard to tell whether they’re in foster care or shelters as they await reunification. Officials have to go through each case and see which children were part of the 2018 separated families policy, and make them first priority.

Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told The NYTimes that if the government really wanted to, they could reunite these families faster than they’re claiming.

“If the government believed finding these children was a priority, they could do it quicker than two years,” Gelernt told The NYTimes.

Gelernt went on to say that “the administration refuses to treat the family separation crisis it created with urgency. We strongly oppose any plan that gives the government up to two years to find kids. The government swiftly gathered resources to tear families apart. It must do the same to fix the damage.”

Earlier this year, various law firms teamed up to sue the Trump Administration on behalf of 10,000 detained children.

“When a government agency takes custody of a child, it should always be looking out for the child’s best interests. But the Trump Administration has instead seen children as a way to go after their parents or relatives,” Jorge Baron, Executive Director for theNorthwest Immigrant Rights Project, said in a press release. “We hope this court case will lead to families being reunified as soon as possible.”

READ: The Trump Administration Is Quietly Trying To Undo The Flores Agreement To Indefinitely Detain Children

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