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Women’s Refugee Commission Condemns Administration for Second Missed Deadline to Reunify Migrant Families

Washington, D.C. — The Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) today condemned the Trump administration’s failure to meet the second court-mandated deadline for family reunification. Reports have indicated that hundreds of separated parents and children still have not been reunified after having been separated for weeks or months.

The government admits to separating nearly 3,000 children from their parents since the Trump administration instituted a “zero tolerance” policy for those apprehended between official ports of entry, while additional children were separated prior to the implementation of the policy and despite presenting at ports of entry. On June 26, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the reunifications, giving the government 14 days to reunite children under five and 30 days to reunite all other children.

The government has deported hundreds of parents without their children. The government remains responsible for locating and reunifying all of those families and the hundreds of others that remain separated here in the United States as a result of this border separation policy. 

The Trump administration canceled one of the most successful tools to respond to families seeking protection at the border: the Family Case Management Program (FCMP). The FCMP ensured that families could pursue their asylum case in an immigration court while not being detained and receiving case management, and demonstrated a 99% compliance rate with court appearances and ICE check-ins.

WRC has long documented how the detention of asylum-seekers around the world, in particular, asylum-seeking women, undermines their ability to access services.

Michelle Brané, director of WRC’s Migrant Rights and Justice program released the following statement:

“While WRC welcomes the reunification of over a thousand children with their parents, it is important to note that these families should not have been separated in the first place and there is much left to be done. The continued trauma and injustice facing these families is a human rights crisis that this administration brought upon itself. These traumatic separations are unacceptable, and it is unconscionable that it is now taking weeks and potentially months to reunite children with their parents.  

“Equally troubling, reports make clear that the government has placed unnecessary, artificial hurdles to reuniting families such as requiring extensive background checks of family members beyond parents who accompanied the children, DNA testing, and requiring parents to pay for transportation to be reunited with children.

“The administration still has not taken responsibility for the harm they have caused and continues to attempt to narrow the scope of what they will do to comply with the court’s order. They have created obstacles and slowed the process at every turn. The administration’s failure to reunite children with their parents is part of a broader attack on asylum-seekers who are legally seeking refuge from violence in their home countries but find every avenue to asylum riddled with obstacles. The administration must be held accountable for the trauma they have inflicted and for continuing to fail in their efforts to reunite families.

“Parents and children should be released and reunited as quickly as possible, and given every chance for a just and humane immigration process. Anything less flies in the face of our moral and legal obligations to protect those fleeing persecution.”