Lawyers cannot find the parents of 545 migrant children separated by Trump administration

Lawyers cannot track down and contact the parents of 545 children separated by the Trump administration. 

  • In 2018, the children were separated from their parents as a result of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.
  • The parents of 545 children cannot be located and about two-thirds of them have been deported to Central America.
  • Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project: “We will not stop looking until we have found every one of the families, no matter how long it takes.”
Source: Associated Press/Gregory Bull

Out of the 1,030 families separated, the parents of only 485 children have been located.

In 2018, the Trump administration instituted a “zero tolerance” policy that separated migrant families at the US-Mexico border. Since then, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other pro-bono law firms have been tasked with finding the parents of the migrant children. According to NBC News, lawyers from the ACLU have said that they have been unable to locate the parents of 545 migrant children. In addition to this, it was reported that approximately two-thirds of those parents have been deported to Central America without their children.

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project spoke to NBC News:

It is critical to find out as much as possible about who was responsible for this horrific practice while not losing sight of the fact that hundreds of families have still not been found and remain separated. There is so much more work to be done to find these families. People ask when we will find all of these families, and sadly, I can’t give an answer. I just don’t know. But we will not stop looking until we have found every one of the families, no matter how long it takes. The tragic reality is that hundreds of parents were deported to Central America without their children, who remain here with foster families or distant relatives.

Some families have asked that their children remain in the US. 

Lee Gelernt further explained that some of the parents who have been located and contacted have chosen to keep their children in the US. Taking this further, they have elected to keep their children with relatives or sponsors out of fear of what will happen to their children if they were to return to their home countries. The search for the separated families continues as the group Justice in Motion is “physically searching for the separated parents in Mexico and Central America.” In a statement, the group commented:

While we have already located many deported parents, there are hundreds more who we are still trying to reach. It’s an arduous and time-consuming process on a good day. During the pandemic, our team of human rights defenders is taking special measures to protect their own security and safety, as well as that of the parents and their communities.

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